Suggestions for Taming the Tube

Decide what, when and how long your child will watch TV. Specifically:

  • Set definite limits on time and content.
  • Monitor what's going on, and be prepared to remove your toddler from the viewing area (or shut the program off) if things are getting too intense.
  • Talk to your child about what she just watched. Even a program with elements or a message you don't like can be a teaching springboard if you put your spin on its content. ("That boy didn't speak very nicely to his mom, did he?")

Be discerning about children's videos. Watch them yourself before showing them to your child. While many worthwhile stories utilize fantasy or supernatural elements, some G-rated cartoons contain messages that may undermine or contradict the spiritual values you cherish and teach at home.

Be even more discerning about video games. Even though a toddler won't have much luck manipulating the controls, she may watch with rapt attention while the older kids battle monsters, space aliens or other humans—and she may view some grisly and disturbing images.

Don't get into the habit of using the TV as an electronic baby-sitter . After a long day it is extremely tempting to park the kids in front of the screen so you can pick up the clutter, get a meal started, or simply put your feet up for a few minutes. If you need a time-out, put on a specific video you know to be worthwhile or at least search for wholesome children's programming. But don't leave the TV on for hours on end or allow older children to channel surf, because you will lose control of those powerful images and sounds entering the minds of the most important people in your life.

Ask yourself periodically whether television viewing is replacing conversation in your family. Consider declaring your home a "TV-free zone" one or more evenings every week in order to encourage reading, games or other activities. Don't allow the TV to become a routine guest (or intruder) at any family meal.

If you are having trouble controlling the broadcast material coming into your home, consider disconnecting the cable or antenna and relying strictly on videocassettes that you buy and/or rent , choosing material based on quality, age appropriateness and family-friendly values.

If TV watching is getting out of control and the tube is exerting far more influence in your family's life than you feel is appropriate, consider as a last resort giving the television a new home for a while — unplugged in the garage.

Background Information

Journey of No Return
Sometimes as parents, we have a knee-jerk response to our kids as we're barraged by their numerous inquires and desires. Maybe it's time to stop being so negative.

When Not To Discipline
Parents should recognize when they should and shouldn't discipline their children.

When You Feel Like Calling in the SWAT Team
Are your children constantly testing you? This classic parenting advice will help you regain the upper hand.

Questions and Answers

After I spank my child, she usually wants to hug me and make up, but I continue to be cool to her for a few hours. Do you think that is right?

We'd like to be more unified in our approach, but how do we successfully move from two financial approaches to one?

How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being punished? Is there a limit?

I have never spanked my 3-year-old because I am afraid it will teach her to hit others and be a violent person. Do you think I am wrong?

It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Is it healthy to spank him or her?

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RelationshipsParents and Adult Children, Blended Families