Keeping your child away from television is one of the biggest struggles you will face as a parent. The amount of programming choices available these days can be overwhelming and can easily overtake your child's life if you let it. Research has shown that overexposure to TV can lead to obesity-related problems and violent unpredictable behaviour in children. But at the same time, if used productively, TV can help your child gain knowledge about the world that cannot come from his school books alone.
So as a parent you will have to find a sweet spot between overexposure and no TV at all. Here are 10 ways in which you can limit your child's exposure to the telly:
1.Limiting TV time
As a parent you need to set limits to the time that your child spends in front of the tube. You have to be upfront with your child when you do this. Explain some of the positives of limiting TV time such as more time to spend playing outdoors and more time to bond as a family. It is better to be forthright with the child than to be arbitrary with the rules. You can use your discretion as to whether you want to allow them to watch TV during school nights and how much, after they are done with their chores and homework. On weekends you can be a little more generous and give them more time with the TV.
You need to lay the ground rules about what your child can and cannot watch on the TV and for how long. Find age appropriate and family friendly programming for your child to watch. You can read up reviews of the movies and shows your child is interested in before you let her watch it just to be safe.
3.Setting an example
You can't set limits on your child and expect them to fall in line if you don't set an example yourself. So tell your child that you will also give up your TV time so that all of you can enjoy family time together. And follow through with what you have committed to as your child will learn from you about keeping his word.
4.Getting out of the house
If your child is always stuck indoors then she will naturally gravitate towards the TV. You can encourage her to go cycling around the locality as long as it is safe. If it is a smaller child, take her outdoors for a small walk around the neighbourhood or even to the nearest park to enjoy some fresh air. Playing a game of catch or cricket with other children in the park will keep her away from the pull of watching TV and will also help her get some physical activity. Get your child exhausted so that when you return home all she will want to do is head to bed.
5.Taking up a hobby
Hobbies are one of the best ways to stop your child from getting hooked to the TV. You can get your child to take up multiple hobbies like dancing, singing, drawing, martial arts or anything he is drawn to. Draw up a schedule for him which will give him more time to pursue these activities and less time in front of the television.
6.Organising play dates
If you want to keep your child away from the tube, then you have to invest your time into making it happen as well. Every week you can schedule some family time with your child. You can make it interesting by choosing a different game every week but make sure to get the entire family involved. In the weekends, talk to his friend’s parents and organise play dates for the children which should come with a clause : no watching TV.
7.Getting creative indoors
You can arrange for a wide variety of indoor activities to keep your child occupied. This can involve many interesting things such as getting your child to bake a cake with you, arranging an indoor camping session, painting the pots in your garden and so on. An electro-magnetic kit for making different things can really get some children interested. The idea should be to get them to be as creative as possible.
8.Helping with the tasks
Another great way to limit your child's TV time is to get them to help you with tasks around the house. This will help them grow up as well-rounded adults and also help in cutting down TV time. But this doesn't mean that you dump all sorts of boring chores on her. Pick and choose the tasks that will interest your child the most so that she doesn't become resentful.
You can ask your child to list out the things that he thinks he will enjoy doing more than watching TV. You can help him do these activities instead of spending time in front of the telly. He might actually come up with some great suggestions all on his own. This way your child will feel like he has more control over what he is doing and will enjoy himself at the same time.
10.Escaping into the world of books
Books remain one of the best alternatives for TV. They provide a means for your child to escape into another world. There are plenty of books to choose from. You can get your child started on something that she likes and then slowly steer her towards other genres. Once your child gets hooked to books and reading she will automatically cut down on TV time all on her own.
Everything in moderation is a mantra that we must all live by. This applies to your child and the telly as well. It may not be possible to cut your child's screen time completely, as it is not practically possible nor advisable to do so. But you can still try to set a cap on it. Steer children away from unlimited TV time and towards other more fruitful activities so that they have a holistic development. You can apply the same set of rules to any screen that children are exposed to like laptops or even mobile phones.