TV As a Break for Mom?

Updated on January 16, 2009
D.W. asks from Fayetteville, NC
36 answers

My son is a VERY active 3 year old. I also have a 3 month old. Anyway, for the last few days, we have not been getting along very well. I say yes, he says no, I say do this, he does that, etc. That kind of thing. I keep sending him to his room to try to break him of disobeying me but it really doesn't seem to be working. This afternoon, he asked me if he could watch TV, which I usually ration out because I don't want him to be a TV zombie. I decided to let him watch it and- OMG- I don't feel like my head is going to explode. He is watching Noggin peacefully and I am feeling relieved but a little guilty. I feel like the root of the problem is that he might like more attention from me, which is a little more difficult nowadays because of the baby. Is this a phase? He usually is an active but good boy, now he is active and frankly getting on my nerves. I feel like that is a horrible thing to say :( I love him dearly but am tired of the constant arguing. I have tried to be really consistant with sending him to his room if he doesn't obey me the first time I tell him something. Is he testing me? Is it bad to let him watch TV just so I can have a break from constantly telling him not to do something or to do something else? Thanks for your insight!

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M.N.

answers from Raleigh on

Everyone needs a break and some fun... moms and kids...

I can't say enough good things about Noggin... they have really good shows without commercials. They teach manners, consequences to actions, often there is a moral to the story, it truly is like pre-school on tv.

If letting him watch a little gives you a break and let's you regroup, then you'll be a better less stressed mom. My daughter is 5 1/2 and she still loves Noggin and watches it after school. I use the PC in the same room and I find myself singing along too.

Keep away from the "cartoon" channels, you'd be amazed at how much violence and bad language they think is ok for little kids.

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D.P.

answers from Raleigh on

D.,
My son loves Noggin, and has learned some valuable things off of there thanks to Moose and Zee. So, I don't think it's at all bad that you let him watch it. You do what you have to do to keep some sanity, and hopefully he is learning something. lol
Maybe try letting him watch Noggin.com. There, you can bypass all the annoying commercials. My son would much rather watch Noggin on the computer, and sits there quietly at my computer desk while I cook dinner or have a telephone conversation.
Also, my son is two and an only child, and demands my constant undivided attention. I think it's the way kids this age just are, esp boys.

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A.T.

answers from Lexington on

Hi D.!

I am in the exact same situation! My daughter is 3 and I have a 9 month old too. She acts out a lot. I think she too is seeking more attention from me and is trying to stretch her boundries a little too.

I make her sit on the stairs throughout the day when she speaks unkindly to acts out. I don't like to send her to her room because I don't want her to associate her room with being in trouble.

Yes - I do use the tv for a break sparingly! We have a DVR, so I have recorded shows and movies that I know I am ok with her watching. My best friend told me that by letting her son watch sesame street in the morning so she could drink her coffee and collect herself she was a better mom! You do need a break! I agree that children shouldn't sit in front of the tv all day - but a 30 min show once a day that is educational can also be a good thing for everyone too!

A.

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K.P.

answers from Memphis on

Yep, this sounds about normal. I also sometimes use videos as a distraction for my kids, but most of the time feel guilty about it. He probably is just begging for attention from you, so try to give him as much as possible, but it's better (imo) to plop him in front of the TV for half an hour than for you to have a screaming melt-down because you can't do ten things at once. Just try not to make a habit of it, using it sparingly -- for two reasons: 1) if he gets used to watching TV, then he won't be a zombie when you want him to, and 2) too much TV isn't good for him and you need to remain active and involved in his life. Maybe you can find an alternate activity that he likes that you can use at such times. Because my kids started drawing on the walls, I threw away their crayons a year ago; now, I've got some more and let them color during church (to keep them quiet) and also sometimes at home. Since they don't do it much, they are entertained for a long period of time when they do color, and I get a break w/o resorting to videos. You can also pack away a box of his toys, and then when you get them out a month later, they'll be "new again" and he'll play with them for a while.

Also try to incorporate him in your activities -- with or without the baby. While you're nursing the baby, you can read to him or tell him a story, or watch him quietly play. He can "help" you with laundry -- depending on how your washer & dryer are set up, he can hand you clothes out of the dirty clothes basket, or put them into the washer or dryer if they're front-loading, or you can lift him up so he can put the clothes in a top-loading washer, and he can fold small simple articles like washcloths and dish towels, or pick out all of his underwear, socks, or other clothes. When you're cooking supper, he can stir, or pour measured ingredients into bowls, or you can give him "his own" bowls and stuff to pretend to cook, or he can pretend to wash dishes while you're cooking. Unless he's scared of the vacuum cleaner, he'll probably enjoy "helping" with that, too; and I know he'd love to sweep and mop for you. You can give him a dust-rag so he can dust the lower half of a curio cabinet or set of bookshelves while you get the upper half. There's a lot of ways to help him get involved, which will make him feel not quite so displaced by the baby, and will probably help his attitude.

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D.C.

answers from Johnson City on

Hi D..
A little Tv is okay, but make sure it is positive eduacational shows. I think they say 30 minutes per day or less. Their reasoning is because of obesity due to inactivity. Well, my older daughter has always been low weight and she is extremely active, so she watches mostly whenever she wants (providing her behavior allows).
The best thing I could advise is just make sure 2 or 3 times a day to try to spend quality time alone with your son. I am sure he is just acting out because of the new baby. He doesn't know how to deal with his feelings and he wants attention.
Good luck.
-D.

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L.D.

answers from Raleigh on

D.,
Yes, it's a phase and yes, he wants attention from you. As I learned with my first born when I went back to school, negative attention is better than no attention. You and your husband need to make "special time" that you each spend only with him. What is more detrimental is the regular yes-no tug of war. He is testing you and if he can engage you to the point of your getting upset, he has gained power over you. Check out a great company -- Scream Free Parenting. They do a daily e-mail with great advice.

Good luck,
L. D.

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A.C.

answers from Charleston on

Wow I must be someone kinda horrible parent cause I let my 3YO watch TV and even get on the computer. During the winter they cant go outside and there's only so much activities a SAHM can do with a 3yo espically when you have housework and a new baby to deal with (I have a 10 month old) I think that letting kids have a couple hours of computer/tv time is fine during the winter cause there's not much else for them to do. It also sounds like he is testing you with the misbehaivor. My DD does it everyday and I get to the point I just tell her to go to her room and leave me alone I need a time out LOL Dont feel guilty about the TV sometimes they do learn something from it.

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M.F.

answers from Memphis on

Yes, this sounds like a phase. With your description of the problem, it sounds as if he is testing his boundaries to determine how well he has to listen and obey you as well as what you will and won't tolerate. As far as the TV goes, I had a system with my son. He had to EARN TV and toy privileges.

That was actually simple for my son. He had a set chore list. (For example, he was responsible for picking up all of the toys, helping clear the table and set it and putting away his clothes at that age. He even had fish that he took care of at three.) If he had completed his chores, he could watch TV or play with his toys; although, he did have to pick them back up as he finished. I used what he had done the day before. If he did not clean up the day before, he could not watch any of the morning shows that he wanted to.

In my opinion, everybody needs downtime, including your son. Noggin has great programming that does not qualify as mindless. Ask him about what was going on and get him to explain the show, characters and all of that to you. Get him started in conversations about what is going on around him. That is excellent preparation for the future as well as some you and him time!

Since you have a new baby and you are worried that he may not feel that he is getting to get enough of your attention, try seeing if he is willing to help out. It worked for my mom 4 out of 5 times. (The oldest brother just didn't like babies the first go round. LOL) I was able to be an "assistant for changing diapers, feeding, playing with toys... I felt that I had my place still in the family and felt important with that method.

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C.O.

answers from Raleigh on

Wow! This sounds like I am reading a piece of my past (only 3 months ago). My 3 year old was the same way. I almost felt like I was doing him a disservice by having another baby! Rest assured, things got better, but i do let him watch tv when I need a break. Remember that kids need some down time too (that is the way I rationed it out). I also got him some learning electronic games like the v tech computer... it's like 20 -30 dollars. My thoughts are that a little tv never hurt me... If it gets me through the day without crying, it's better for all of us!

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R.W.

answers from Charlotte on

Hey, D.! I have always said that 3 is worse than the terrible twos! I have 3 kids and they didn't get to be terrible until they were 3! I use a reward type system in the summer time that works well for my kids (11, 9 and 5) and it can work for you too. If they want any "tech" time such as TV, computer, phone, video game, they must read for 15 minutes and then they get 30 minutes "tech" time. I have upped that to now reading 30 minutes for 1 hour because they are older. My youngest was 3 when we started this and he would come to me after each of his shows were over and say, "Let's read Mommy, my time is up" and we would sit down and read another book or several books for his 15 minutes or I would tell him to sit quietly and look through the books for 15 minutes or have him color! Whichever works best at the time. This way you are encouraging reading in the process but also giving TV time. It also helps with the reading programs at the local library where they give out medals for reading 20 hours in a summer.

Also, spend as much time with him as you can one on one. He needs it now that there is a baby in the picture. When your husband comes home, take your son out for a date and just go to get ice cream or Wendy's for a Frosty. Something that includes just the two of you! My children love going on dates with us and we have been doing that since the youngest was born 5 years ago. It also encourages your husband to be more involved with your daughter even though she is very young.

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C.R.

answers from Knoxville on

I don't think letting him watch TV once in a while to give yourself a break is bad. It is hard adjusting with a baby in the house for everyone. When my second son was born I really got my older son(4y.o.) to have good behavior by making sure that I was letting him know when I was happy with his good behavior. The other thing I always tried to do was spend one on one time with the older child when the younger was napping. I know that is hard because there is so much that needs to be done. Just remember that your children are young for such a short while. Spend as much quality time with them as you can. Soon they will be wanting to spend time with thier friends and boyfriends or girlfriends, going off to college, getting married. Enjoy them while they are at home. Good Luck and God Bless

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V.C.

answers from Wheeling on

I've raised 4 kids and have 3 'grands'. It's SO easy when being with kids all day to start getting grouchy. Take a break from the kids however and whenever you can helps, too! Too much of any good thing (even children!) is bad.

Try to turn this around by offering options of 'reward' instead of 'punishment' (I don't like the idea of a kid's room being his punishment or 'time-out' place, but maybe that's just me).

And, as suggested by someone, incorporating him into household chores (laundry, cooking, cleaning, straightening) is wonderful!

If he can sit still, have him do quiet projects near you while you tend to the baby (or you can read to him at this time). Let him color, cut with (safety) scissors (then help him pick up the scraps! LOL), draw, play Play-Doh or fingerpaint, etc. Try to avoid saying 'No' about everything and instead just think of something he CAN (and may) do. Diversion works at 3 probably better than it does at 2!
God bless!

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E.W.

answers from Chattanooga on

D.,

Let him watch Noggin. It is a very educational channel for children his age. It will teach him things you may not think of. Just set a schedule for him and the tv, include time for him with you when the baby is alseep in that schedule. Is he still taking naps? Schedule. A 3 year old needs a schedule, it will help for when he has to start preschool and kindergarten. Also, don't argue, lay down the law, if he says the opposite of what you tell him, lay down the law. That is it, no arguements. It does work, but since you have given in to him on the arguements, then it will take some time for him to realize mommy means business. You make the rules, not your son. Set a schedule. I know it is hard with a baby, but the baby needs a schedule too. It will take time but you can do it.

good luck.

E.

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T.C.

answers from Lexington on

First, don't send him to his room as a punishment. His bedroom should be a place where he feels safe and can be himself. At some point he is going to regard his bedroom as a bad place and that will cause you MORE problems. Tell him if he "wants to act that way" to go to his bedroom and do it, let him act that way in his room, because it is his. If you need to punish him put him on a chair in the hallway without anything and make him sit there for a minute for every year old he is, TIME OUT!
And listen. I get so fed up with people saying TV is poison for our kids. My kid is no TV Zombie but she does watch it. Most of the time she gets up and does whatever she wants while the TV is on. She stops and watches something what catches her eye and then goes back to her activity. I have friends that do not allow their kids to have TV, snacks, things like that that the MEDIA and healthfreaks tout as being bad for our kids, these kids GORGE on it whenever it is offered or available. Letting your kid cool down and watch Noggin for awhile and giving you a break is just fine! The content of what you let your kid watch is more important than the amount.
Maybe he is getting too much of you and you of him and he needs some other form of entertainment. You can't always be that for him.
So give him some Nemo fruit snacks, a sippy cup of JUICE and let him watch Max & Ruby!

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

I know exactly what you mean. I am a tv nazi because I don't want my kids to become vegetables, but when my little one does "sneak" it on (as if I don't know) I sometimes let it slide in order to have a break. I don't like it, though. I finally got some little luggage padlocks to lock the tv's plug with, which has stopped the sneaking. I really believe in what John Rosemond has to say on the subject, which is a lot. He believes that children do best with as little "interference" as possible from parents. They should do their thing (which develops creativity, imagination, etc) and only be bothering Mom when they really need something, and mom should only be "interfering" when they need some correction. I don't know if that makes any sense or not, but he has a formula for getting them to be self entertaining, which they should be, and is a demonstration of a healthy imagination (which is dulled by tv, too much interference from adults, etc.) Anyway, check him out at www.rosemond.com. He has some excellent books, which have been very helpful. When I actually do what he recommends, life is more peaceful around here, and my older son (who I've been practicing on longer) is very well behaved... Best wishes to you!

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A.H.

answers from Nashville on

I think you must be my long-lost twin!!! I am going through the EXACT same thing with my three year old boy! To add to it, I have a just-turned two year old and a six week old, so the t.v. has because my new best friend! I feel guilty too, but I figure the educational stuff he is getting out of the shows he watches (mostly PBS) is better for him than constantly butting heads with me! He argues about everything, and will whine if he doesn't get his way. He is usually a really sweet, happy boy - but WHEW! it is hard when he isn't! I just make sure the shows he watches are either educational or Christian movies. That helps my guilt level! And I still limit it - I swear he would stayed glued in front of it all day if he had his way! I let him watch a show or two (or three!) in the morning, and then a movie in the late afternoon. I also find activities like PlayDough keep his attention for a while, which helps.
Good luck!!!

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M.T.

answers from Nashville on

It is a phase and do not feel guilty. Sometimes you have to do what you have to as a mother. You have to have a little peace in your life also in order to be a good mother.
Noggin is a great channel for them to watch. It is like having classroom without you doing the teaching. Don't fret, let him watch, and you take a break.
I would make extra sure that I did something a little extra with him when the baby is asleep or the husband came home. He may be testing you because the baby is here and he isn't getting the 100% attention that he use to get. So a little alone time with him may be just what the dr ordered.
Good luck.

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J.C.

answers from Greensboro on

Boys at 3 are definitely a challenge. Noggin is great, until it drives you crazy from humming all the theme songs. I think when ever you do what you feel is best especially if it makes you a better mom then you don't need to feel guilty. my son turns 5 next week and one thing that really helped us was the SmartCycle that playschool makes. it's basically a kids size exercise bike that connects to the tv for playing games. They pedal and play, so it is burning off energy and learning at the same time. really fantastic. also maybe putting him in charge of being your super helper when it comes to the baby might help. He'll like doing jobs and you can do them with a reward incentive. reward the positive behavior instead of the negative - I know that's hard, but it does work. one other thing we did with my son, was to sign him up for lil' dragon's tae kwon do class. some classes start at 3 others wait until 4, but he is learing, patience, discipline and respect. He says yes maam a whole lot now too. We love it, plus it's twice a week for 30 minutes, so I get time to relax. Just do the best you can, 4 will be here before you know it and then you'll have another set of issues. hang in there.

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A.W.

answers from Charlotte on

I love Noggin. It is not bad to give yourself a break, everybody needs one. Constant arguing is not good for anyone, and just makes the rest of the day harder. As a mother of 3 I have learned that you do what works and save the guilt for something major. Good luck, and remember you are not alone.

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S.T.

answers from Johnson City on

Take heart, this is a season and it too will pass. You have a 3 month old, give yourself a break! Someone told me that parenting other children pretty much goes on hold for about 6 months after a new baby arrives. That's not to say that you don't maintain, but to wait before you tackle any big problems. You are good to no one if you are frustrated and tired all the time. Something else, he might like some kid of other physical relief like gymnastics class or karate. This gives you a little break from his energy and keeps him active. Good luck!

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J.T.

answers from Louisville on

D., congratulations on your children! I have to say my girls were the same age difference, however I was lucky and worked full time outside the home. I now get the privilege of staying home with my 4 yr old. He's very active and can be a handful. He loves going to school, but now that we have moved, we are enjoying each other. I let him watch tv while I work from home for about an hour each day. There are lots of programs on that are educational and noggin happens to be a very good one. Have you looked into placing him in preschool? The one here has classes half days Mon-Thurs. It's a great chance for them to learn how to associate with other kids. We haven't gotten to that just yet, but I am considering it.

Just a note about TV. All three of my children enjoy TV about an hour a day, and sometimes a little longer on the weekend or when watching a movie with the family. Plopping them down in front of it for half the day is not a good idea, but some can teach them patience and lets face it, a calm mommy is a much better environment! Three is a tough year to get through but I promise you'll survive. Keep staying on top of him with the discipline. For a few years it felt like I was constantly sitting my girls in the corner. But it works and that's all that matters. Now I can tell them to do something and they know what will happen if they don't. My very best to you and if you ever need to chat, my email is [email protected]____.com

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D.B.

answers from Charlotte on

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D.K.

answers from Wheeling on

Oh yeah, he's testing you. His new sibling, in his eyes, is taking your time away from him. Don't stress, good weather is coming and being outside will lessen t.v. time. I wouldn't worry about putting nogin on for some free time and less arguments. I don't imagine you overdo it, just by reading your post I can tell you want each child to have time with you. There is only so much energy and time to spread around for you, Mom. And, I bet you are so tired of this constant arguing. I guess this is where "picking the battles" come to play. Letting him watch some t.v. won't do any harm, especially right now when you need a break. Remember, spring is coming.....then summer, and he will be able to run off some of that energy he is using now to argue. Of course, he will still try to get your attention in other ways that test you, but hang in there. Don't beat yourself up feeling the way you do, they all get on our nerves from time to time, especially now with your newest addition. You are right, he's testing you...and don't feel guilty about using a t.v. for a little bit of peace and quiet. Just know that when the weather breaks, he'll actually choose doing things outdoors over nogin. Take care and have fun with them.

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L.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

I think it's fine! You love your kids and you are spending plenty of time with them. I think it's okay for a kid that age to watch a little bit of tv now and then. Plus, it's helping you keep your sanity. As long as you're not using tv as a babysitter and he is engaged otherwise, don't worry about it. Nogging is a good channel for kids that age, it is fairly educational, no commercials, etc. If he's only watching occasionally (meaning not all day long!) then don't worry. And yes, he is testing you. : )

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B.H.

answers from Jacksonville on

Hi there D.,
I have a 4 y/0 and a 1 y/o...both boys. I went through the EXACT same thing. Please be patient with yourself. My oldest had a tough time for the first 4 months then things started to become peaceful again. They DO want to know they are still loved. I was nursing my youngest and had my older son get a book at every feeding. That was the glue for us. My youngest nursed 12x a day, so during the day, my son got LOTS of books! (and more of the attention he needed) I also know that 3 1/2 is a tough age and up until 4 (much harder than the 2's for us) and he was constantly testing me. I am thankful to be at home and stay consistent with him as it has paid off. As your infant gets older and settles into a routine your nerves may settle a little more. I hope that you have some good support there to get you through the 3's. Kids NEED to know their boundaries (as I'm sure you well know) and this testing is just part of it. Yes, they get on your nerves and it can be hard to admit that, being that your love for them is greater than anything else. Ahhhh, the joys of parenting.
Take care and best of luck,
B.

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D.D.

answers from Knoxville on

Everyone talks about the "terrible two's", but the three is tougher in my opinion. You are not an awful mother and you should not feel guilty!!!! It is ok to have some peace and down time. I think it is ok for him to have a little down time too. My husband and my oldest daughter love their tv time; however, they are very active and very smart. Don't beat yourself up and let yourself have this little bit of peace. :) It is tough to have a 3 yr old and 3 mo old. I know, I've been there! :) Take what you can get and don't make yourself feel guilty! "The years are short, but the days are long!" Don't remember who said that, but how true it is! This will pass. Good luck!

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M.B.

answers from Charlotte on

i don't think there is anything wrong with it! my 2 yr old loves the wiggles and it gives me a break!! we also have those days of just not getting along but when the wiggles are turned on it is PEACE!

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A.H.

answers from Louisville on

An insane mommy is no good for anyone! I'm not suggesting you let him sit in front of the TV 6 hours a day, but for a program or two that you know is harmless, perhaps even educational, there's nothing to feel bad about. My son loved Barney and I could get so much done while he would watch it. He is now a well-adjusted, straight-A senior in high school. A few hours of Barney didn't seem to scar him for life. My sister would set a schedule and they would do some school-work and maybe a chore in the morning, and if they had good behavior as a reward they could watch something in the afternoon. That might be something you could try.

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R.U.

answers from Nashville on

try and get some movies like the wiggles and veggie tales etc. where he will be learning and listening to positive things. with the wiggles who knows you might have a little singer on your hands. when he learns the songs he can preform for you instead of fuss. good luck. R. momn of seven.ps. the wiggles are a great workout for you and him. try to keep up with them. it will wear you out. ha ha

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M.T.

answers from Wilmington on

The way I see it, the TV is a wonderful way to have a break!
A happy mommy is a good mommy! However, so as not to have them be tv zombies all day, we also use playdoh and crayons/markers for quiet play time. We use tv as a reward too, especially right before one of their fav shows comes on! Its AMAZING how fast the playroom gets cleaned right before Curious George! :)
BTW, I went through (going through) the same discipline issues for my son. Be consistant with punishment - the timeout corner worked well for him because there was nothing for him to do/see,etc.. BORING!

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G.G.

answers from Charlotte on

D., we all need a break now and then! Just make sure you aren't letting him watch because he's getting on your nerves (or he will get on your nerves more to watch more!) I would let him know that if he is behaving, he can watch whatever show he likes later in the day. Some people call that bribery, but I see it as a system of rewards! ;-)

Three is a TOUGH age, but having a sibling invade your territory makes it worse! Read the book, Siblings Without Rivalry and you can head off some issues! I LOVE that book and I have four kids that are pretty well-adjusted... my youngest is three and I feel your pain!

I agree to put him on time out on the stairs because it's likely to be more of a consequence than his room. Also, I would suggest that if you do send him to preschool, to make sure it's something he's excited about or he might think you are trying to get rid of him to spend more time with baby!

Good luck and enjoy that family, crazy times and all!

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C.B.

answers from Charlotte on

D., do not feel guilty for needing a break. Tending to children all day is very tiresome. If he is watching Noggin or PBS Kids then he is probably learning something anyway. He is obviously bored and needs something to do while you take care of his little sister or while you have a little time to yourself. He will not have to ride the short school bus if you let him watch a little TV. Also give him other activities to do such as coloring, drawing or painting. It will keep him busy for a little while.

Best wishes to you!! Oh and don't let other mothers make you feel guilty for letting your child watch TV. (There has yet to be a "perfect parent")

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T.C.

answers from Knoxville on

D.,
Every mother needs a break. TV can sometimes help preserve your sanity. You can still set limits (i.e., you can watch (#) of programs and then you can (color or something else?)). Forget the guilt. Take care of those children and maintain your sanity. Your little girl needs a lot more attention right now than she will in a few months. Take it one day at a time!
T.

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S.I.

answers from Johnson City on

No, it is not bad to let him have some tv time unless thats all he does all day everyday, then you have an issue. Just keep an eye on what he's watching.

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K.M.

answers from Jacksonville on

This can be a hard situation. My recommendation is to try as early in the days as possible to spend at least 15 minutes with just him (maybe while the baby is napping) and give him your attention. It will effect the way he acts the rest of the day.

Using TV to get a break is ok. However, without even knowing it it usually becomes an easy habit. Use is wisely.

My children also get time outs in their room. I have never noticed that 2 minutes for a 2 year old work however. As far as I'm concerned 15 minutes of playing in your room by yourself for a 2 year old works. It also gave me time to step back, my heart rate to go down, etc. You don't have to feel guilty for telling your children to walk away from you when the situation has gotten to emotionally high. It's good to learn to walk away.

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E.M.

answers from Louisville on

heck no! tv is a WONDERFUL thing... if it wasnt for spongebob i would be in a crazy house right now. dont be so hard on yourself his brain isnt going to turn in to mush from a little noggin tv. take your break enjoy tv time! and dont worry about saying he is getting on your nerves my children drive me up the wall its just what they are good at!
p.s. dont use his room as punishment you will have a harder time getting him to go play there alone or going to bed. it needs to be a nice fun safe place for him