TV IN CHILDREN’S ROOMS
I just read Positive Discipline A-Z, and how children shouldn't have TV's in their rooms. If my children already have TV's, what’s the best way to let them know I am taking them out and TV time will now only be in the living room. Or should I leave the TV's and just remove the cable boxes? HELP?!?!?!?
Hello. My name is Penny Davis and I am one of the people who help to answer questions sent to the Website. I am the mother of two grown children, and two grandchildren, and have been a parent/teacher educator for almost 30 years.
I applaud you for deciding to take television out of your children’s rooms. How you handle this really depends on your children’s ages. Assuming they are old enough to discuss this with you, my suggestion would be for you (and spouse/significant other if there is another adult in your home) to sit with all of them together if possible, in a calm, mutually respectful manner. Talk about your concerns – too much TV viewing, not always knowing what they are watching, your sense that they are not spending time doing other more creative things, spending too much time isolated from family, you would like more ‘family time’ with them, etc – or whatever might have come up for you as a result of reading Positive Discipline A-Z. Let them know you would now like the TV to be only in a ‘common area’ and that you would like their help in deciding when/what/how much TV your family will watch. Brainstorm with them, writing down all of their ideas. There will likely be issues around who gets to watch what, how many hours a day, etc. You and any other adults will have ideas to add as well. Once you have a list of everyone’s ideas, work with the group to come to consensus around how much TV each day is acceptable, how you all will choose what to watch, etc. There are lots of answers to these issues, depending on your family – perhaps each person gets to choose what to watch once or twice a week, perhaps you have younger children who may watch for 30 minutes earlier in the day when older children are not home, with the older ones watching later. You might even decide as a family that the TV will only be on when everyone agrees to watch something together. These decisions will, of course, depend on the number of children you have and their ages.
You may also want to brainstorm with them a list of other things they (and you) enjoy doing – on their own, together, and as a family, that will replace some of the previous time spent watching TV.
Television, once it’s in a common area, can be an excellent way to ‘connect’ with your children at various ages. At one point, when my first-born was 10, she was allowed an hour of Saturday morning TV. She did not understand why I did not want my 3 year old to sit with her, even for 30 minutes. I asked her to watch her two favorite shows and to write down the number of violent interactions (characters falling down, getting hit, etc) and to keep track of the commercials and what was being ‘sold’. It was a great eye-opener for her, and gave us a chance to talk about violence and about advertising. She decided on her own, to spend that time reading or doing puzzles with her sister.
Later, during their teen years, I remember watching many episodes of ‘My So-Called Life’ and ‘90210’….certainly not my choice of evening viewing. However, it frequently resulted in numerous conversations about the situations the characters became involved in and the decisions they made. It was a great window into my daughters’ thoughts and feelings about important teen issues, and a wonderful way to stay connected with them.
I hope this is helpful for you in beginning the process of lessening the importance of TV in your children’s lives.