I’m going to tell you a story about television and behavior changes in our home. About two years ago, my oldest daughter, Eva, comes upstairs in a frantic whirlwind. She said, ‘Mom, I was watching TV and then, it was weird. The TV went off like POOF!’. Well, when I came down and found a crack in the TV, I knew what the poof was. All I needed to do was look down and find what had collided with it. Eva was swinging around her school’s ‘Jogathon’ medal. It looks like a child sized version of an olympic medal. She was swinging it too close to the the television. We had told her many times before NOT to do that but of course, it did not sink in. Well, now the TV was completely broken and the screen was completely dead. In our home, we only have one television we use. We do have one in our home gym but it’s not set up with cable and it’s only for exercise DVD’s. We couldn’t repair it because it would cost just about as much money to replace it.
My husband, Marcus and I talked about it after the girls went to bed that night. We decided to teach our children a lesson about taking care of property and also to teach them to listen to us when we tell them something. Although we could have gone out and purchased another TV right away, we wanted to teach them that things are not easily replaced. We also didn’t want our children to feel entitled that they DESERVE their television to be replaced. (Don’t worry they are still learning that lesson about listening!) We didn’t replace the Television for SIX Months. Yes, you read that right. We did the unimaginable thing right here in America. We ALL went without television for six months and lived to tell about it! It happened at the end of October so that meant no holiday programming. I still remember a friend of mine telling me that we were ‘being mean’ to not get another television so they could watch Charlie Brown’s Halloween and Christmas programming. That meant no Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or the Grinch on TV. We did watch some holiday DVD’s we had.
Sometimes parenting means that you, the parent, must suffer through the lessons. That meant that Marcus and I couldn’t sit on the couch on weekends and watch movies, favorite shows like Seinfeld re-runs, Ellen Degeneres or The Foodnetwork (we love The Food Network). There were no Family Movie Nights. Instead, we played board games, cards, colored, painted and did crafts. At Christmas time, my girls, unscathed and influenced by Christmas toy commercials, had a very small list for Santa.
The one remarkable difference was their attitude. They weren’t stressed in the mornings. I didn’t have to do a disco dance to get their attention when it was time to put on their coats and shoes for school. I didn’t sweat thinking that we were going to miss the bus. They weren’t angry that I was pulling them away from their favorite shows. It was LOVELY!
Finally, when we did replace the television, we were all overjoyed! Family movie night was back. We bought special snacks to celebrate! We could relax on weekends on the couch and cuddle up to watch a fun show together! Something happened, however that Marcus and I weren’t prepared for. Somehow, a week or two after getting our new TV, we reverted back to our old habits of watching television in the mornings. Back again were the arguments and stressed out children. Back again was the loud imagined sound of my clock ticking telling me we were going to be late for the bus! Even worse, we noticed that the girls were less focused on doing well in school. They wanted that television!
So, we made a rule that we’ve held for about two years now. There is NO television watching during the week. Television can be watched on the weekends only. Still, there were more lessons to learn. During the weekends, we notice that the same stressed out children rear their ugly heads. I know why! It’s too stimulating. Have you ever watched children’s cartoons? They move so quickly your head will spin. I don’t remember Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry moving that quickly. There was nice music and a good story. Now cartoons and music are designed like an Indie Race. This is why my children are so stressed on the weekends!
On the weekends we limit TV to 1-2 hours. The rest of the time is coloring, dancing or playing. My children’s behavior is not perfect and I’d be scared if it was. That wouldn’t be normal! However, I experienced first hand how television will change their behavior and make them even more stressed out. It’s not worth it! I am not saying we don’t enjoy television because we do. Now I make a conscious effort to limit TV in our home.
Try it for two weeks in your home and you WILL see a difference!