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I've pretended our telly is broken to break toddler's obsession. What next?

(8 Posts)
alittleteapot Sat 18-Jul-09 11:32:53

I started showing dd the odd dvd when she was about one. By the time she turned two she was completely, utterly tv obsessed. She only watched in the afternoon (my rule) and usually only for half an hour, or an hour max while I prepared dinner. That didn't bother me at all. Was nice for her to have some chill out time and some good educational stuff with vocab etc. But it was how much it consumed her mind the rest of the time, even when not watching, to the point when it was all she wanted to do when we entered the house from being out, all she wanted to do at friends' houses, and she only seemed interested in toys and book if they featured characters she recognised from tv. She would beg and beg to watch at all hours and always tantrummed when it was time to turn it off. It felt like it was the thing our days revolved around.

At other times I witnessed this amazing imagination blossoming - we spent an hour in a hospital waiting room playing an imaginary game with no props. I suddenly felt enough was enough and that I could see ways in which the tv obsession was taking over and outweighing her other experiences. I wished I'd never shown it in the first place. So I pretended it was broken. Which she accepted.

That was over a week ago and it's been a brilliant week where she's played with her toys again and got much better at entertaining herself. We've had far fewer tantrums as telly was our biggest flashpoint. But I suppose I feel a bit bad or at least odd about the dishonesty behind the whole thing, and it only takes her to wonder in one evening and find us glued to the box for the whole thing to be scuppered.

I'd love to find a way for her to enjoy short amounts of telly and then forget about it, but that doesn't seem to be her personality. I don't want to get back where we were but I don't think it will be helpful long term to ban telly completely. I'm not a purist about these things and wouldn't have done this if it weren't for the extent to which her obsession had developed.

Sorry this is a bit long. Any thoughts?

mumonthenet Sat 18-Jul-09 11:40:13

My dc's are older but I remember the time when the tv was being repaired for a week or two. Was wonderful, they found other things to do, we had conversations, chores got done, everyone was totally chilled out.

(Just wait til you have this problem with the computer!!!)

Some people manage to choose the programmes they will watch, in advance - then turn the tv on at that time and off afterwards...needs some heavy policing though. I really don't know the answer but I think you were right to do this as an experiment.

alittleteapot Sat 18-Jul-09 11:42:56


I think about buying a small flat screen tv that can be put away in a cupboard. Part of the problem is having this big thing staring at you blankly all day just waiting to light up.

We have had to discipline ourselves in this way in the past - like set ourselves internet free days. It's so easy to throw away all your time - there are better things to be doing!

mumonthenet Sat 18-Jul-09 11:48:23

Definately, like I should be cleaning up the house and starting the lunch - not sitting her on mn!

Are there any tv's with parental control programmes (like you can put on your pc)? Some of the pc ones have timers. So the tv would switch itself off at a certain time each day, and your toddler would have to argue with the tv not with you!

cornsillk Sat 18-Jul-09 11:48:38

Maybe get her into the habit of not turning it on until a certain time. Then the same habit of turning it off. Doesn't cbeebies go off at 7p.m anyway? My ds is exactly the same with his laptop but he's 11! DH and I have told him that the internet goes off in the evening till the next day (evil chuckle). One of us whips the cable out at a certain time. (Then I sneak down to MN when he's in bed - bad mummy)

mumonthenet Sat 18-Jul-09 11:48:49


not her.

alittleteapot Sat 18-Jul-09 11:54:41

That's the trouble, she's inherited my own screen addictions! Here I am on Mumsnet when I've got a million boring things I have to do and a million lovely projects I'd love to start. Maybe we'll have to go and live in a tent!

alittleteapot Sat 18-Jul-09 12:05:16

cornsilk, yes that's what i'd been trying to do, but it's difficult as she's too young to really understand times of day and our days are not structured enough - i did think of making htem more so - like "story time" and "craft time" but I think that's just a fantasy. Maybe when she's a little older that will do the trick. Still worries me how much the characters consume her even when not watching though.

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