Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How to Wean Your Child (from TV)

My husband and I LOVE movies and TV. We love to read books and see how Hollywood butchers them. We watch TV and talk about them. We like to think we aren't just couch potatoes zoned out to the flashy box: we watch things that entertain us as a social topic. Before kids we could be found at the movie theater once a week. We knew what to expect for DVD release day Tuesday mornings. We didn't have cable (still don't) but that was so the budget could be spent on a decently extensive DVD collection. We had an almost complete collection of animated Disney before our children were even a twinkle. We also had game systems and enjoyed playing on them. When we were ready to have kids we were stoked to share with them the awesome-ness of media.

We still worked to limit their exposure. They have no idea who most popular tv characters are: Dora, Spongebob, Thomas, ect. We watched with them, not usually using the screen as a babysitter. Even still, they slowly became accustomed to more and more. When I was pregnant, sick, and tired we watched even more than I was happy with. It had become harder and harder to limit them without tantrums. It was time for a change. These are the things that help us cut our screen time.

Literary Movies
Movies based on books. Bonus if they are reading of the books set to animation. This can move your focus to more literary options. Barns & Noble has some of our favorite books read by popular actors and authors available as Online Storytime

Often TV is used as just background noise. So, use just the sound! By keeping familiar tunes on, it allows us to sing and play along, without sitting and watching. You can even create a station on Pandora.

Find the literary versions of your favorite characters. Offer to read about them in place of watching. Audio accompanied books are also great.

I have found a few places for coloring pages and learning packets based on the movies they love.

Star Wars Learning Packet
Disney Coloring Pages

Get Away From The TV
Find activities to get you out of sight of the TV. Explore your library for your at home supplies. Go to the park. Create a grocery list of JUST your kids' favorites and explore the store at their pace.

April 30th- May 6th is Screen Free Week. Do you think you can do it? To be honest: I don't expect to. Especially after bedtime. But, I  am going to bump up the use of these suggestions (and please, share yours!) in the coming weeks and see if we can meet this challenge.


  1. I really need this post right now! The last week of January I made the huge mistake of recording "Maisy" on our DVR. I'm not pregnant (yet) or sick, just lazy and have let that show control our lives. She's constantly asking for it (bringing me both the remotes needed) and I know she is completely addicted. Before this, she wasn't interested in TV, now she is interested in little else. I may also have an Internet addiction problem as I surf while she's watching the shows over and over and over again. I so want to want to kick both our habits before summer! :)

  2. This is a really helpful one! We've considered pretending the TV is broken just to kick the habit, but we haven't followed through yet. I go back and forth between considering TV just a tool among many (after all, I love it, and I don't think I'm some horrible, ignorant, zombie-like person) and worrying about the hold it has over Mikko. But, in the end, I do find that if I offer other options, he's usually quick to snap them up — particularly if we leave the house entirely. I think TV can be a fallback for boredom, when it would be great if there were more creative solutions that came to mind.

    I really like your idea of having music on, because I know that makes me less likely to turn on the TV. It's like a psychological trick.