Monday, June 5, 2017

Montessori: Children and TV


Lately I've been thinking a lot about what a slippery slope TV is. A few Saturdays ago, we ended up letting Coco watch My Little Pony on Netflix autoplay for like two hours. She had woken up at 5 am for some inexplicable reason and we really needed some more sleep. It seemed like an okay idea at the time.

It's mildly disturbing, but...




She hasn't watched My Little Pony since, and yet she keeps telling us stories about it! We'll be driving along in the car and she'll say, "Mama?" And I'll say, "Yes?" And then she'll launch in. She doesn't preface her stories with "In My Little Pony..." or any sort of intro, she just uses their names as if we're supposed to know who she's talking about. "Rarity said to Applejack..." and the stories go on and on, sometimes for five solid minutes. It's terrifying. It's like she's actually reliving the watching of the show inside her head. So bad!


TV seems to affect everything. Sleep. Behavior. Demeanor. Willingness. Familiarity with routine. When our children watch too much TV, it throws everything off balance. Just like having a late night means that it will be at least three nights before equilibrium is restored, watching too much TV seems to mean that everything is thrown off for a week or so, too. What starts out as one or two ten-minute Peppa Pig episodes while I make dinner turns into a My Little Pony marathon on Saturday morning. :( I can't help but ask if it's really worth the brief moments of peace if affords us. TV is the worst. It's the slipperiest slope there is. 

How much TV can your children handle? How do you create firm limits around TV?

(Photos via Vintage Everyday)

10 comments:

  1. We have observed this too and I find it best for us to avoid it as much as we can. We have no actual television set in our house, so the screens on laptops and tablets are mostly tucked away. We allow a "video day" every 2 or 3 weeks where my 6 year old can watch an hour or so of her choice of things we have put on a tablet. She gets basically free reign with the tablet on airplanes (overseas travelling is just so much more pleasant for everyone) and it's such a defined space for it that it doesn't carry over into pestering or misbehaviour at other times the way tv at home does. My 2 year old gets only family videos on Flickr or ones we made ourselves and that's occasional for a couple minutes together, rather than an "activity".

    Making dinner is a challenge for sure and sometimes it would be so nice to have them sit quietly while I cooked instead of building a pile of blankets and leaping off the coffee table when I'm not looking. But the minute I think about that, it makes me uncomfortable about WHY they just sit quietly with TV. Ugh. No judgement for those who resort to it, because I *so* get it but having had this approach for a couple years now, it is so worth it.

    The transition takes some time but they get good at amusing themselves, being very creative, and they adore being outside. In terms of focusing on my long term parenting goals (instead of just can I get laundry or dinner done today), little to no TV is for sure the answer for our family.

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  2. I am so nervous about this! My daughter is almost 15 months old and I've tried to be really strict about following the AAP guide of no screen time before 2 years--she's only watched the election and the Macy's day parade (and by watched I mean been in the room at the same time as), but iphones are trickier...we do Facetime and watch videos of herself, but she will often throw a small fit when I tell her it's done, and that's not even cartoons! Part of me wants to never introduce the TV, but I also don't want her to be a weirdo with no social references? I don't know...The slippery slope is coming!

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    1. I understand your fear. The more they see it out, the more, they will want it. With my twins, we rarely had the TV on with them, on occasion a sports game hubby is watching. My third child is much more into screens, for some reason(we do not let him hold our phones, we have no ipad, nothing is different, but for some reason he is totally drawn to them). Still, keep doing what you are doing, or even keep it more out of the way. Out of sight, out of mind. Mine tend to spend more time playing outside, which greatly helps. They are not the odd ones out at school, at all. From playing with the other kids, they still know all the star wars characters names, etc. I would say facetime is ok, but try not to show so many videos of her- maybe that would help.

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  3. Our kids recently turned 2, and they didn't really watch TV until a little before 2. Some of it was an intentional choice, but really, my husband and I aren't big TV watchers. He'll watch some shows occasionally, but I never watch TV unless there's a sporting event that I want to see.

    Our kids mostly started watching when they were sick and needed a nebulizer. My daughter is now on a twice a day nebulizer treatment, so that's when they get to watch TV. Generally, they get 1 show in the morning and 1-2 shows after dinner, and they only watch Daniel Tiger, Thomas & Friends, and/or Curious George. They also don't get to use iphones or ipads, with the exception of Skyping their grandmother in Denmark.

    Frankly, I could do without Thomas, but they've actually learned helpful things from Daniel Tiger...such as the idea that grownups come back when you leave them. The other day, my son was looking through a book where a little boy was scared to leave his mom at school, and he distinctly said, "grownups come back." I think the right TV is actually not bad for kids as long as they're not getting it for hours on end.

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  4. My twins are almost four and they have never watched tv. They occasionally watch videos of themselves on our phones, and face time with their grandparents, but that's all the screen time they get. I worry about their social exclusion from not watching the usual kids shows, but so far that's not been a problem. It's definitely a harder path because I have to be more involved (and like Allison said above, there's all sorts of mischief while I'm busy), and perhaps there have been times when I should have let them watch to give me a break (I am not the most patient person, and often I feel that motherhood is not quite what I had in mind! ;), but now they are quite capable of amusing themselves, and I try to be super organized for the harder moments - doing dinner prep in the morning when everyone's more cooperative; taking just one matchbox car out to dinner in case they can't handle the wait; or sometimes just giving up on what I'm trying to do, because (unless its dinner) it's not that essential. For context I'm a SAHM, with no family near and no outside help (but a lovely husband!) and we live in an apartment in a very urban environment. Also, re early waking - we just introduced the ok to wake clock and it's been working really well! They were waking at 5, but with the clock they at least stay in their room till 6, which is the time we set it to go green. Not always quietly, but at least they're not jumping on us! :)

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    1. My nanny was worried about this with her twins(social exclusion), so she got them into video games. Big mistake. At least they still like to read. Stay strong mama.

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  5. I think every family has to come to their own arrangement and "rules" for TV. For us, I don't let Silvia watch anything except on the main tv in the living room- no tablet and no phones- and she has what's on CBeebies or an appropriate DVD- the Gruffalo is a good one, not too long. I can't bear obnoxious cartoons- if I can't watch it she doesn't. We also really enjoy wildlife docs- we happily watched "Elephant Diaries" this afternoon. With all of them I try and sports cast so we talk through what is happening together.

    My other big rule is no TV before 4:30pm, 4 if it's been a terrible wet long day. It makes sure we have exhausted all other options- books, arts and crafts, cooking, an outing, whatever. We have a full day and then the TV goes on, and then it's dinner time, bath, stories, bed. No "more TV" tantrums and a natural break.

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  6. So here's an interesting perspective for you...my cousins were raised in a strict no-TV household. They were educated in Waldorf and Montessori schools and literally had no TV all through high school. My cousin is now a mother of twin boys and does allow them 30 minutes a day of either TV or books on tape, etc. She felt like TV was SUCH a fixation for she and her sister that the ended up binge watching it when they were older at friends houses and then when they were on their own. My other cousin (her sister) is still not a big TV watcher so it definitely depends on the child's temperment as well. I grew up in a pro-TV household (on ALL the time) and I never watch TV except for specific shows on Netflix like The Crown, etc. We have an almost two year old daughter and I just don't feel the need to have it for her. She has so much fun playing with her toys and running around the house, I just haven't felt tempted.

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  7. My oldest is 3 1/2 and she's seen very little TV, mostly because we keep it in the closet. We watched part of the Sound of Music with her as a "movie night" last week and it was... a little horrifying how absorbed she was in it. We will probably let her finish that movie but it made us more convicted about it. Things I do: tell them to go play outside, enlist help setting the table/folding laundry/etc, start them with some toys, playing a bit, and then leave to go do my work, just tell them to leave the kitchen (so far I don't have too much coffee table jumping but whiny whinners who want to eat ten minutes ago), try to start dinner during naps/quiet time (lots of roasted veggies and meats that do better started earlier). I am not too concerned with her socialization, I think she is learning how to interact in good ways with others.

    For the mornings, the OK to Wake clock is GOLD. At first, she didn't go back to sleep but she'd stay in bed; then she started actually sleeping later!

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