Can we even imagine a life without television? Did we even consider it a possibility? Television is like the inseparable, electronic member of the family that feeds on electricity rather than food to sustain itself and provides us with entertainment that we think we cannot do without. Instead of thinking of it as a member of the family, if we thought of it an outsider – say, a baby sitter for instance – we would be able to see how it is affecting our lives. Imagine a babysitter taking your child away from you! Isn’t even the thought horrific? Now substitute the babysitter with the television and imagine the scene again. Not only is the TV taking your child away from you, it is putting an abrupt stop to his cognitive development. Would you allow it to continue doing that? Of course, you will not. And, as a responsible parent, you will try to make amends before it is too late. Here are some tips that will help you get your child off the television and into something more constructive and meaningful.
How To Stop Your Child From Watching Television
Here are some ways in which you can get your child to stop watching television all by himself, without being forced to or threatened into doing so:
Before initiating your child into anything, you must follow it yourself – especially when it comes to those good habits that take time to catch on to. You must change your own television watching routines and adapt it to suit the child’s too. Switch off the television and do not switch it on again. Put on some music to keep your mind occupied too; it is less distracting as compared to television. The child will also be able to think beyond the TV and will think of something else.
Getting a child off TV may well be the best time to help him develop the habit of reading. Also, since you are the parent and the role model, you will help your child by reading to him or by encouraging him to read. If you pick up a book instead of the remote, chances are your child will also want to read, taking your example. If your child is too young to read, pick up a book appropriate for his age and read to him.
Engage your child in games that will help him develop his cognitive skills, instead of watching television. Now that does not mean you teach your child to play bridge! Play a game of carom or any other board game that the child likes. You could also play word games like ‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing’ like we loved to play during our school days. Buy a book of puzzles like ‘spellathon’ or Sudoku that your child can put his mind in and will not be too difficult. Who knows, your child may actually end up forgoing TV altogether so that he can finish his Sudoku puzzle!
If it is time for your child to relax, encourage him to play outside and get the other children in the neighbourhood to play together. Don’t worry, you are not the only mom with a boob tube addict for a child, there are many other such mothers who struggle to get their children off the TV. If they are all busy, play with your child yourself (better still, ask your husband to do that, lest he switches on the TV!).
No TV With Food
Ban the television during dinnertime and encourage everyone to talk during dinnertime rather than watch television. You will not only inculcate better habits but will also be bringing the family closer. Siblings will come closer and become thicker friends when there is no television to distract. You will have to be very firm with this rule, as there is a possibility that your husband might blackmail you emotionally into turning it on (“Please honey, I have been working all day and I am tired…”).