Thursday, August 30, 2007

Confession of a Work-At-Home-Mom

I am guilty. I let the TV babysit my 3 year old son. Now don't get me wrong; I know what he's watching, and it's all educational, good stuff. Mostly PBS, Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer. But the poor kid is literally transfixed by the magic box.

I used to be able to leave the TV on while he played and he'd glance up at it once in a while, but mostly he'd play with toys. But lately he's grouchy and wants nothing but TV. He doesn't even want to get dressed in the morning in case he'll "miss something."

I'm worried. But I don't know what to do. Luke is a high-maintenance kid. He doesn't play on his own very well or for very long. Even the baby (1 year old) plays on his own for longer and is much easier to take care of. And I have to work. So what's a mom/employee to do?

8 comments:

Jamison said...

I wouldn't know, but maybe Liz can offer some advice. My first thought is that you are going to have to bite the bullet, take some Advil, and let him be upset for the next few days and maybe use it as some sort of reward for good behavior.

I will say my neice watched TV alot as a child, mostly stupid sponge bob. She would sit close to the TV to watch it and now she wears glasses and has since she was 5 years old. the eye doc says it is mostly due to focusing on the tv while sitting too close to it. SO I guess if he is going to watch tv, pull him back 6 or 7 feet

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel,
How old is your kiddo? If he's old enough to understand a rewards system, I would have to agree with Jamison. Obviously you don't want to punish him for watching TV, but you'll have to provide an equally-tasty alternative. You know your child better than anyone, so get creative and figure out what he might respond to. The TV definitely sucks them in, doesn't it? I have a 21-month-old and I am just getting over the flu. During the past 5 days or so, he has watched a lot of TV because I just didn't feel like doing much. I felt guilty then, and do now too, because he'll ask for it now. I let him watch Thomas & Blue's Clues, etc. when we're eating breakfast and lunch (and if I desperately need him to be entertained for a minute), and the rest of the time the TV is off. Maybe you could just gradually 'wean' him off TV. But provide a reward for him for being a good sport about it. Set up a poster system or something so you can chart his progress for all to see: each day without TV (except at designated times) and without complaining gets a star. At the end of the week, 5 stars gets a prize - or something like that.
Does he like books or puzzles? You could start the 'TV weaning' by taking him to the store to pick out a few new books, as you explain to him that too much TV isn't good for his brain or something :) (you don't want to scare him, obviously). Or, to encourage his outdoor activity, get him a little basketball hoop or batting tee or golf clubs or something.
This is a tough one, b/c TV is definitely hard to beat, but you can do it! Kids are resilient, and there's nothing more motivating than praise and treats from mommy! So good luck and hang in there.
If worse comes to worse and you need someone's help to entertain him while you're working, maybe you could pay someone to come over and get the ball rolling - play games with him for a little while or something. Or if he likes to help with little brother, then give him some 'tasks' to do that will earn him more stars. Just be creative and you'll be fine - it's definitely not too late to cut back on TV time.
Oh, another thing I just thought of (sorry) that I read recently is that kids need to know the rules, what's expected of them, set consequences for each violation, etc. Like I said, you don't need to punish him, but if you establish a 'new family rule' and have a little meeting to formally add it to the (posted) list, then maybe he'll respect it more and put up less of a fight. He can't argue with it if it's a 'Family Rule.' Hope some of this helps!
~tyree

lilsip said...

Thanks, Tyree. Don't apologize! I was quite literally asking for it. Luke is 3 1/2. If I turn the TV off myself, it stays off; for some reason he hasn't thought of actually pushing the button on the TV to turn it back on after I've closed up the entertainment center. So it's really up to me in the end. The going outside part has been difficult lately with temps getting near 110 degrees daily! It's gotten better, only about 100 and sometimes even the low 90s this week.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I thought about the temp thing right after I said it. But it's a huge step in the right direction that he'll keep the TV off when you turn it off! And without complaint? This will be a piece of cake! :)

Anonymous said...

oh, that comment above was from me, tyree :)

Sharon said...

Rachel,
I totally understand what you are talking about. My son is 3, too and he loves tv. We only allow tv on the weekends, except for an occasional movie on Friday night. On most Saturday mornings the first words out of his mouth are, "Can you turn on the tv?" I remember watching tv when I was little, so I don't think there is anything wrong with it, in moderation. (Of course I wear contacts- coincidence?) We have considered taking the tv out completely, oh, but I am addicted to a select few shows myself. If it weren't for that it probably would have been gone by now.
Sometimes when I feel he is a little too into the tv, I tell him, "Okay, after this show, the tv goes off and you have to find some toys to play with." That usually works pretty well. Or I will pull out toys that he doesn't play with often or hasn't played with in a while, so that he is even more interested in them than the (lack of) tv.
Now is the best time to go ahead and set a limit on the amount of tv that is watched, before it gets too out of hand.

Jamison said...

i look forward to Mullins commenting. Two boys, and no cable. Would like to see their suggestions.
And, for me, I would like to know what wisdom you have gained that you'd like to pass down to a new parents for his future ref.

lilsip said...

So far, so good. He was getting too focused on the TV this morning and I did the "we're turning it off after this show" thing. He is currently pretending pirates with his toys. Fingers crossed!