Sunday, June 13, 2010

Television Battles

Before I had kids I swore that they would never be allowed to watch much TV. I've always been uncomfortable with television being used as a baby sitter and I always imagined them playing creatively with their toys, helping me around the house or letting me read to them. Then I had a real child. A real child who is loud, bored easily and whose idea of creativity is stamping my kitchen table permanently with pictures of blue mice.
I've tried various things over the past few years to keep the TV watching in my house to a minimum, some more successful than others. For a while I had the rule no TV before 5pm because I realised if it went on early in the day it quiet often wouldn't get turned off till bedtime and that equalled a lot of TV watching each day. Then I realised that TV watching before bedtime was causing problems so I tried to restrict it to late afternoon and it had to go off at dinnertime or when the sun went down, whatever came first. Whatever I tried though the TV would always creep back into our lives, monopilising Iris's time, causing meltdowns and leaving her tired from lack of activity
My my most recent attempt at wrestling control back from the TV was to move it from the loungeroom to the study where I could close door on it and hopefully it would be a case of out of site out of mind. It worked really well for a few months. Iris slowly watched less and less TV and she even went a few weeks without watching any at all. Then we got sick, the weather turned crappy and the TV crept back into our lives.
I think because Iris went so long without it I'm really noticing the negative effects it's having on her this time and I'm not happy about it! This past week we've had some major battles over the TV with meltdowns over when she's allowed to turn it on, meltdowns over turning it off and she's even been waking me up in the middle of the night to tell me that she's very sad with me because I turned "Dora" off so we could eat dinner with her grandparents who were visiting.
All this is making me seriously consider banning TV outright. I know that makes me a sellout in regards to radical unschooling but I think at 2yrs old as nice as it sounds for Iris to be able to moderate her own TV appetite there are forces working against her that are making that difficult. I think TV shows these days are made to suck kids in and keep them watching for as long as possible. I'm guessing the longer they watch the more brands they begin to recognise and the more they are able to be marketed to. Ideally I would like to strike a balance and just let her watch small amounts but with Iris she seems to want all or nothing.

So what would you do in my situation? What's the TV situation like in your house? Do you let them have unhindered access, no TV at all or somewhere in between?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

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