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Is this normal? - 3 year old and TV

(11 Posts)
phoenixrisingeversoslowly Thu 26-Jan-17 21:44:53

My 3 year old goes to nursery 4 days a week, for 11 hours at a time.

On nursery days, if she wakes up while I am getting ready she will immediately demand cartoons. So might then have half an hour of cartoons while I'm getting myself ready. When she comes home she immediately demands cartoons. So might then have around an hour of cartoons while I'm making tea and sorting things out. When I sit down with her she doesn't want to play, she wants to sit on me and watch cartoons. We then read several books before bed. I'm told at nursery they have limited iPad time and she is a very engaged, sociable, lively, empathetic child.

At the weekend, she has lots of toys but again will demand cartoons pretty much as soon as she wakes and unless I say no, would just have them on and sit staring at them. This is at home - if we go out, she will really enjoy going to the park, for walks, climbing, exploring.

It saddens me. She would rather watch cartoons than look at me, play together. She won't play herself - if I switch the cartoons off but am doing something will just lie down and wait. If I try to play with her it can be quite combattive - first of all, she will want to sit/stand right on top of me, and then she can argue with everything I try to do (example - I pick up a toy, she says no and snatches it). If she doesn't get what she wants she just opens her mouth and cries/screams - I find this really hard to handle for any length of time.

I suppose in my ideal parenting world, we wouldn't have the TV on at all, we would play imaginative games and be happy. I realise all children have some screen time but what we seem to have evolved into seems like an excessive habit and I'm worried.

Do I just go cold turkey and switch TV/devices off?

This is difficult where I have to do something like get ready for work to a deadline and almost use the Tv to press her 'off switch' for half an hour so I can do that. Yes I realise that's a horrible thing to say but sometimes it seems like the only way, but I feel guilty/horrible because I know what I'm doing as I do it.

NuffSaidSam Fri 27-Jan-17 13:46:20

It probably is quite 'normal'. It's not good though.

I would go cold turkey. Tell her the TV is broken. She can demand and sulk and scream as much she wants. If it's broken....it's broken.

You'll find that her ability to entertain herself at home and play with you improves once the TV goes.

Some children do need more guidance/organisation than others and are not able to just entertain themselves with toys. Before you declare the TV broken maybe stock up on puzzles/sticker books/colouring books/lego/marble run etc. anything that has a specific point rather than expecting her to create her own game with open ended toys like a dolls house/playmobil etc.

She may need you to start her off, so explain what she needs to do and start with her and then when she is settled you can go and get on with something, coming back frequently to encourage/supervise/comment on how well she's doing.

AllTheLight Fri 27-Jan-17 13:50:59

I think half an hour of TV in the morning and another half hour after school is normal and fine and won't do her any harm. I'd try and restrict it to that though.

The playing behaviour sounds normal for a 3yo too, it's part of learning to interact with people. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be firm about snatching, screaming etc - but I think it helps to know it's normal!

LoneCat Fri 27-Jan-17 13:55:42

I think on days she's in nursery it's entirely understandable. 11 hours is a long day for anyone and she probably just wants to relax when she gets home just like we all do after a day at work.

Maybe you could have a no TV rule at weekends? Or limit it to an hour in the evening?

I also find my children engage better when we go out as there are no screens to distraction them.

NickyEds Fri 27-Jan-17 13:59:39

If it's half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening I wouldn't worry. 11 hours at nursery will be exhausting for her and I'm sure she just wants to sit. However if you're worried and would prefer her not to then I would do as Nuff suggests, just no more telly but more books/puzzles etc.

empirerecordsrocked Fri 27-Jan-17 14:08:39

I have 5 yo twins. One is utterly obsessed with screens so we now have nothing at all in the mornings and after they have done their homework / reading in the evening they can have an hour. At the weekends they can have the tv whenever they want but the iPad is strictly limited to two hours a day.

The obsessive one needs clear boundaries or her behaviour seriously degenerates.

I realise it's easier to rationalise with a 5 yo to a 3 yo though.

Do they have iPads at nursery?

ItsNiceItsDifferentItsUnusual Fri 27-Jan-17 14:18:01

I agree it's unsurprising that she isn't in the mood to play during the week - she's been playing, interacting and learning the entire day.

I would however have no screens at all on a weekend, if you feel it's affecting her behaviour. If she doesn't want to play, can you do outside stuff? Even just mundane things like picking up some shopping, going to the park etc - interaction without being too 1-1?

CantReach Fri 27-Jan-17 21:56:57

Does she have a favourite programme you can incorporate into play? I loved imaginative play, as well as reading and tv, and I would often play based on things I watched. My favourite toy wasn't official merchandise but I named it after a character's pet. I would often dress up as various characters using random items of clothing and old scarves and things.

I often found that adults dismissed the things I loved as pointless (I'm not saying you do this) but the tv and films I watched were important to me. I just loved stories, and I now work in the performing arts so never really grew out of it, just replaced the play with drama club and writing in my spare time, until going into it professionally.

Do you know what her favourites are? Maybe incorporate the things that really matter to her into her routine, and see if she's into playing games based on them rather than watching something else she's not as interested in.

keely79 Fri 27-Jan-17 22:19:32

I think many kids will watch as much tv as you'll let them. We restrict the amount and the rule is if they don't switch off immediately when asked or if they throw a strop when told they can't watch, then there is no TV or other screen time for next whole day. TV is a treat, not an entitlement.

CheeseFlavouredDiscs Fri 27-Jan-17 22:31:07

Our DC becomes obsessive and demanding about TV if he is allowed to watch it too regularly. We implemented a new regime - no TV in the morning and only CBeebies bedtime hour at night (if his behaviour had been acceptable). We have found that cartoons (in particular the Netflix stuff) are the worst ones in terms of fuelling his 'addiction', and that CBeebies is the least addictive and causes less deterioration in his behaviour.

He is especially obsessed with cartoons on Netflix, and we have made it available only as a reward. One show (30 mins max) if he tries hard at activity X, or does something particularly good. We aim to make it so he can easily achieve 2 shows a week. At first all he had to do to get a cartoon show was play nicely with his toys for 20 minutes. Gradually we moved the goalposts so that his behaviour improved, but the overall TV viewing reduced.

In short, try moving to CBeebies in term of content and then perhaps seeing if you can reduce the amount of TV.

CheeseFlavouredDiscs Fri 27-Jan-17 22:35:54

Oh & DS is also 3

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