We have all experienced that moment when we turn off the TV, and our kid has a complete and utter meltdown. “WWWHHHHHHHYYYYYY AAAAARRRREEEE *Sniff* YOOOUUUUU SOOOO MEEAAAN MOMMY?!?” Your child, feeling completely wronged by the dismissal of their favorite television character, is having a full meltdown. You have probably started to wonder where you went wrong as the meltdown ensues, when did your child become so passionate about TV? Common Sense Media has compiled some ways to help prevent a meltdown when it is time to power down the TV, or any other device for that matter.
One way to help children transition from TV, or to prevent your child from sitting in front of the TV for hours, is to use pre-recorded shows so that one show does not flow into the next. Our friends at Verizon offer DVR’s and on-demand programming to help you do just that. If your child loves watching TV on your cellphone or tablet, Verizon also offers a program called Family Base that can disable certain features at times of your choosing.
Another tip that Common Sense Media recommends, is to have a plan. Explain to your little one that they can watch one show, and then explain what the next activity will be. If they are excited to do the next activity, it won’t be such a struggle to explain why the TV has to turn off. Your child should also know how to turn off the TV on their own, and should be encouraged to do so to make time for things like reading books. Giving them the power of the remote will make them feel more in control and more ready to turn it off when you tell them to.
It is important to build mutual respect with your child. Just like the importance of safe cell phone and internet habits, it is equally important to build trust with TV habits. Give your child a five-minute warning, and try not to turn it off before the five minutes is up. If your child is invested in a show, be respectful and don’t make them turn it off before the climax, this is often the biggest meltdown trigger in older kids.
Turning off the TV doesn’t have to mean a meltdown. By limiting the number of TV hours, explaining the next activity, and using simple tools like a DVR or Family Base from Verizon, your child will quickly build better TV habits—ones that don’t involve them flopping on the floor and screaming. Once you have ended the cycles of meltdowns, you can start spending quality time with your kids, creating simple and fun memories like blowing bubbles or making strawberry pancakes, as suggested by Dr. Hammond– sans tissues.