A TV diet is just like any diet – hard! Many times, when I talk to people about diets, they are very frustrated from trying and trying and not succeeding. People want fast results with no effort. If you feel like you want that for your kids TV diet – you are normal! Normal, but not very effective.
I think it is better to understand a diet before starting it is mainly, because a lack of understanding will almost guarantee your failure. I would not want that for you, because I would like to empower you to take control over your life, rather than feel disempowered and hand control over to your kids, especially regarding TV. As you are about to see, it is good to understand any diet as a lifestyle change, whether you want to lose weight, have more energy or ensure that your kids grow up to be smart, social and positive human beings.
Everything you need to know about diets before you start
- You must discover the purpose of going through the TV diet before you start. Set goals! Health, academic performance, family values, social skills – whatever it is you want, make that clear.
- As much as any other diet, the TV diet is about health. Take information from this series (there is plenty of it) and talk to your kids about the health implications of watching too much TV. It is very good for kids to understand this from an early age. Use terms like “this is not a healthy show to watch” or “Your health is very important and it is better for you to play outside”. Link the effects of watching TV to health concerns. Why? Because they are strongly linked.
- It takes time to adjust to a new habit. In fact, research shows it takes 21 days to change a habit. Give yourself time!
- It is much easier to get rid of just 1kg of extra weight than to get rid of 20kg. If you have small concerns about your kids’ TV habits, do not wait for things to get out of control and do something as early as possible.
- When you want to lose weight, it is best to concentrate on 1kg at a time. With the TV diet, you can to focus on a single habit at a time. Put millstones in your plan. “Step by step, one walks far”.
- Just like in any diet, when you fail, the next time you try you have to work harder and get rid of more weight. If you are not planning to go the whole way, do not start! If you fail with your kids’ TV diet, next time, when you fed up with their TV habits, you will have to work a lot harder.
- A diet is an eating plan. A TV diet is a watching plan. When there is no plan, there is confusion – “Should I watch this or not?” When there is no plan, watching TV is a matter of opinion, so there is conflict. Explain to your kids that following a plan makes life much simpler and more relaxed (I will elaborate on how, later).
- Just like in any diet, once we get to where we are comfortable, we have to stay there. When you plan a TV diet, remember that maintaining your target position is sometimes the toughest thing. Include maintenance it in your plan.
- Many people, when they feel bad, sad, disappointed or frustrated, they eat more. When your kids feel the same, they watch more TV. Treat the cause, not the symptom. Take the time to understand what drives your kids to watch TV and develop ways to eliminate those drives.
- As a person managing someone else’s diet, you may feel sometimes like you are in a war zone. Take into account that your kids may be angry at you sometimes. This is fine. Kids are very flexible and they will get used to the new rules faster than you think. Do not indulge in guilt feelings. Guilt is a major obstacle for any parent. You are doing the right thing and you know it!
- Some food diets work on the reduction of the quantity you eat. You eat the same kind of food, only less of it. It allows to adjust gradually and get quicker wins to keep motivated. If you like this approach, just limit the TV hours. This can also be just a step towards better watching or towards no watching.
- As with any change, good support is vital. If you want to help someone diet, you go on the diet with them. You would not eat a double chocolate cake with whipped cream in front of someone who is on a diet, right? Go on a TV diet yourself to help your kids do it. If nothing else, it will give you some insights into what they are going through, but it will certainly mean a lot to them.
- Another way to diet is cut out junk food. Make a list of the shows you consider bad for your kids and (gradually) take them out of their life. To reduce craving, give your kids a list of what IS OK to watch, in which junk shows are simply absent. More on this in the next post.
- If you are choosing to cut off junk TV, make sure you “walk the talk”. Stick to joining your kids on this diet and make sure you do not watch any junk on TV either. I remember a fight between my dad and my brother who started smoking when he was 16. My older sister said to him, “How can you tell him smoking is not good if you smoke yourself?” My dad had tried to stop smoking many times, but that incident made him finally do it, because he saw what his smoking was doing to his son.
- The same way you substitute junk with healthy food, expose your kids to good TV. Nowadays, this can be as easy as choosing which channels to purchase and/or setting a program filter on your set-top box.
- To choose healthy shows well, do your homework and find out more about each show.
- One of the hardest thing about diets is not thinking about the stuff you are giving up. Keep your kids active and doing other things that will keep their mind off TV.
- Just like any other diet, you will experience setbacks. Do not despair! But do not allow things to get out of control. Take a deep breath and keep moving forward!
I am sure that by now, you understand why tackling excessive TV watching is the same as tackling obesity and going on a diet for health reasons. Join me in the coming weeks when I cover in details some of the items on the above list and explain HOW to make them happen.
Our next post in the TV Diet series is about Junk TV.
Happy and healthy TV diet,
This post is part of the series TV Diet:
- TV Diet (1): Too Much TV?
- TV Diet (2): Health Concerns
- TV Diet (3): Kids Behaving Badly
- TV Diet (4): Kids’ Outlook on Life
- TV Diet (5): Parent-Child Relationships
- TV Diet (6): Disposable relationships
- TV Diet (7): Learning and Education
- TV Diet (8): How Much TV is Too Much?
- TV Diet (9): Kids’ Personalities
- TV Diet (10): Parents’ Influence
- TV Diet (11): The Right TV diet
- TV Diet (12): Junk TV
- TV Diet (13): Raising Aware Kids
- TV Diet (14): Cutting Junk TV
- TV Diet (15): Routine
- TV Diet (16): Healthy Alternatives
- TV Diet (17): More Healthy Alternatives
- TV Diet (18): Conclusion