Obsessed with the TV

Updated on November 16, 2008
E.M. asks from Brick, NJ
7 answers

Recently I introduced my daughter to movies. (She'll be two-and-a-half in December.) She watched the Lion King from start to finish and LOVED it. Since then, we have watched a few other Disney movies, and she will watch them over and over. However, we have begun to slide down a slippery slope where all she wants to do is watch TV, especially movies. I started to let her watch a Noggin show here and there while I nursed her brother, who is three months, and now she is constantly nagging me to watch "a show." I have to force her to play with me sometimes, and every day I have to say no to the TV, seven, eight, nine times a day. It is getting a little tiring and I have to admit there are days when I just let her watch TV for an hour in the morning and a whole movie in the afternoon (especially if she won't take a nap, but that's a different story!). It is so tempting to just say yes, she is happy, and I am able to care for the baby or get things done around the house. Is this a phase? Are there any other ways to deal with this besides constantly wrestling the remote and DVD case out of her hand? Help!

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answers from New York on

Hi E.,

I don't know of any parent who hasn't used the tv as a "babysitter" at some point. There are some great educational shows that help teach numbers, shapes and letters and other that teach values like manners and friendship, that can be benefical to your daughter. There's nothing wrong with allowing her to watch these types of shows for an hour a day.

I would recommend doing a little research and finding out what shows are on at what times, and then setting up a tv schedule (one that works best for you, when you need sometime to focus). Remind her throughout the day, "no you can watch tv now, but you can watch it after lunch". You may want to use the tv or movies as a reward system.

I would save movies for special times or occassions or maybe just once or twice a week.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I personally hate TV and try to limit my kids from too much TV, movies and computer, but reality is that I can't limit it too much or they don't know the things their friends are talking about and then they don't fit in. So we have times when it is acceptable for the TV to be on, having a schedule might work well. Then when she asks, just remind her that she will have TV time, it's not right now but it's after lunch, or before dinner, or whatever marker will work for her to understand when it is. You might want to let her pick out whatever DVD or TV show she wants to watch in advance. I try to make sure that my little one picks out stuff that is an appropriate time frame too (sometimes a half hour DVD vs 90 min). In the winter we have more movie time on the weekends when it's too cold to play outside, summer the TV is almost always off so they can go out and play. Sometimes I remind my kids of the toys the begged me to buy and suggest they go play with them before we decide to get rid of them because no one plays with them. That usually gets them into play mode for awhile. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

When my daughter starting throwing tantrums because she wanted the TV on because she was dependent on it, I quit cold turkey for a bout a week she watched nothing. Then I reintroduced letting her watch it again when mommy said it was ok reminding her what happens if she cries over the TV.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Dear E.,

I agree with Denise, however do not beat yourself up most of us have used tv for a break throughout our hectic day. Being a stay at home mom is the most difficult job you will ever do everyone needs a break. As long as the movies she is watching are age appropriate I see nothing wrong with it. My son who is now 24 was obsessed with every Disney movie there was. I still remember him reenacting the scene of Step in Time from Mary Poppins as he jumped up and down in my living room. He would wake up at 6:30 a.m. and go until 7:30 at night and was nonstop all day so for my sanity I allowed him to watch a Disney movie everyday and it would give he an hour and a half to do whatever I needed to do. Yes I am guilty of using tv as a babysitter, but my son grew up to be a wonderful and productive man so I guess I didn't do such a bad thing. With a newborn and a 2 year old you have a full plate so don't beat yourself up about it. Good luck on your beautiful family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't think this is a phase! I would have a set TV time, rather than off and on throughout the day. Toddlers do so well when they know exactly what to expect. If you plan on just letting her watch one 30 minute show a day (Sesame Street, or whatever), with movies being only for special occasions, then she'll quickly learn that it doesn't matter if she asks or not. Now she's thinking, "If I ask and ask and ask, she may let me!"

TV is a tough one, especially because it's so easy to keep 'em quiet and happy with it! As a former teacher, I had so many kids who watched SO MUCH TV. It had an enormous impact on their reading abilities, and desire to read. But I also think 30 minutes of educational TV can be a mom's life saver, especially with a little baby to take care of as well!

So I would make a choice, and stick to it. Maybe pick one or two shows a day, the shorter the better. And schedule the watching for when it will really help you. (getting ready for dinner, or a time you know you'll be too exhausted to keep up with your 2 year old, etc.) Plus, whenever possible, watch the show with her. That way you two can talk to each other, which keeps her mind moving and her eyes from getting that scary, glazed over look... :)



answers from New York on

I don't see anything wrong with some TV time a day. I think if you set a rule, something like TV time from this time to this time in the morning and the same in the afternoon, then there is nothing wrong with that. Noggin is a great place for that age, they actually do learn stuff. My almost 3 yr old son started counting in spanish, and I never thought him that. He knows words in spanish too, and he plays along the puzzel games with the shapes and stuff too. Bottom line, I don't see anything wrong with an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon as long as it's an appropriate show. Pick a couple of shows that you think she'll enjoy and give her tv time. My son loves Max & Ruby, Backyardigans (only when he naps since it comes on at 8PM), and Jack Music show. I have to say that I sit and watch with him and we talk about it as well. Don't feel bad about watching tv, you can make it interactive.



answers from Albany on

I would try setting guidelines right now while the problem is new and she's not really into the habit of watching tv all day. Say something like, you can watch 1 show each day (or whatever amount you're comfortable with) and then let her choose when she wants to watch it. Maybe a long movie could be a treat on weekends or once in a while during the week.

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