The best way to start any diet is to find out how much and what kinds of food you consume, so to start your TV diet, first you need to know how much TV you and your kids are watching.
Most parents think their kids watch too much TV and fight a lot with their kids over it. Finding out about your kids’ viewing habits can help you greatly in your parenting by having your facts straight.
Measure each one of your kids separately. Bear in mind that if one of your kids watches too much TV, it will make a huge impression on any younger kids.
Older kids (teenagers) typically need the TV diet more, but your success with the younger one will be easier to monitor. Make sure to work with all your kids, the young and the teens.
Print the Family Matters TV Recording Sheet and record each of your kids’ TV viewing over a week period. When you do, just observe your kids as they watch TV and their behavior afterwards, but do not say anything to your kids to ensure your results are accurate without any influence or pressure on the kids.
Whenever I coach people around time management, I ask them to record how they spend their time. It is surprising for them to discover just how much time they spend watching TV. The funny bit is that sometimes when people add up the hours of everything they do every week, they find that they spend over 168 hours a week, which is not possible.
It is important to measure TV viewing before adopting any strategy to wean your kids off it. Obviously, the worse the situation is, the longer it will take you to change their viewing habits.
When you have recorded one week, go to each of your kids and ask them what they think about the hours they spend watching TV. The reason we ask kids about what they think is to find out if they have a good estimate of their viewing time. Some kids especially the younger ones, have no idea about their viewing hours.
Ask your kids about adults themes in the shows they watch and whether they think they watch age-appropriate TV.
Ask your kids about their reading and whether they think they read enough.
Ask your kids about the commercials they see on TV. You will be surprised that kids do not realize how many commercials they see during each hour they watch TV and why it is not so healthy for them.
At first, ask your kids for their opinion in order to get their thoughts and ideas, but do not start a discussion until you feel you know everything. Then, raise some points about the content and amount of TV watching and discuss those points with your kids. Sometimes, the discussion alone will make them aware of the situation and give you an opportunity to gently raise your concerns. When you have this discussion with teenagers, do not try to push your ideas or the conversation will end. It is better to exchange ideas and guide your teens’ own thinking process rather than imposing your thoughts.
How much TV is too much?
One question most parents ask is what a normal, reasonable TV time limit is. I guess this is a very important question, but the answer depends on the kids’ age, their personality, the personality of parents, the circumstances (school day, weekend, school break, holiday, working parents, separated, etc) and the type of shows they watch.
In the next weeks, I will write about all these aspects of setting the rules for watching TV and I hope it will help you find the answer to the question, “How much TV is too much?” and your own family’s ideal watching time.
Until next week, please share what you think is the “right” amount of TV watching time.
How many hours of TV per week would you let a 10 year old watch on school days?
Join me next week for kids’ personalities and how they affect choosing the right amount of TV viewing.
Happy family life,
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