Last week, I described some healthy alternatives to watching too much TV. You may have already found some ideas you can work with. Today, I will describe even more alternatives, which should give you and your kids more options.
TV Diet (16): Healthy Alternatives
Many people, kids and adults alike, use television as an entertainer and a way to keep themselves busy. Therefore, one of the best ways to overcome too much TV is to make other activities more attractive than watching TV.
Examine your watching habits and you will notice that when you are motivated, doing fun things and working towards a goal, you watch less TV than usual. People generally watch less TV when they renovate, when they start a new and exciting job or when they go on a family trip.
I have found that my kids turn on the TV when I am busy or not around. When I am around and I pay attention to them, I talk to them about school, encourage them to do their homework or practice their music, or come up with a family project. When they are with me, they do not turn the TV on.
Start with the weakest point in your weekly routine and give your kids healthy alternatives to watching too much TV. Here is a list of things you can do to help your kids keep busy and not just busy, but actually doing something meaningful and entertaining, fun and rewarding, instead of numbing their brains in front of the TV.
TV Diet (15): Routine
During years of work in the education field, I have found that good routines are great for establishing good habits in kids. If your kids have bad TV habits and they watch for too long or too many unhealthy shows, a good routine can help them stay away from the TV and choose more beneficial activities.
Routines are a good way to give kids a stable atmosphere and make them feel certain in their life. The massive change in routine is one of the reasons kids’ world is so shaken and they tend to watch too much TV when their parents go through a relationship breakdown.
I think a good routine is a great parenting technique not only for overcoming the TV addiction but for many other habits you want to instill in your kids. An established routine encapsulates many of your rules and boundaries. If you are a regular reader in this site, you already know I believe that rules give kids a sense of certainty and define to them the safety limits in the world they live in. Therefore, a routine plays a big part in making your kids feel safe.
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TV Diet (14): Cutting Junk TV
I am sure many of you ask, “Well, now that we know why it is important to cut junk TV out of our kids’ life, the big question is how?”
I agree! This is the big question.
In this post of TV Diet, I will explore ways to do just that. Not all techniques have worked for me as well as others, but I think it is important to mention all of them, mainly because we are different people and have different personalities and therefore, what did not work for me may work well for you and vice versa.
TV Diet (13): Raising Aware Kids
Being the home TV police officer is not a fun at all and nobody can survive being one for long. At some stage, you will need to make sure your kids have enough understanding and awareness to regulate their own TV consumption.
I remember realizing this when my daughter Eden was 4. She was sensitive to dairy food and I was a very good dairy police officer (I had no guilt feelings, because eating dairy food meant she would get pneumonia). Eden went to kindergarten and I knew that although I wrote on the admission forms “No dairy food”, she would take food from other kids. This is when I knew I needed to teach her to be aware and understand why she needed to restrict herself.
The TV diet works the same way. Your kids will be exposed to TV more than you think and certainly more than you can control. All my kids have come home at times with details about TV shows I have never allowed them to watch. This is the reason raising aware kids is better than fighting this on your own.
TV Diet (12): Junk TV
Last week, I wrote about the comparison between a food diet and a TV diet. One thing I find particularly important is Junk TV and this is also what I emphasize most to my own kids. Basically, if most of your food is healthy, eating junk from time to time will not kill you. Similarly, if most of your kids’ TV time is educational and positive, you can allow them to watch some junk TV occasionally.
If you want to make sure your kids do not consume junk TV, you need to define what junk is. Unfortunately, just like you can find some research saying coffee is unhealthy and other studies claiming it can cure Alzheimer’s, you will also find people saying that watching TV is learning about real life and others saying it is anything but real life.
As with any matter of choice, you have to find your own definition. To discover if a show on TV is junk or not, you need to go through two steps:
If you think a show is junk – easy! No need to debate this, but very important to remember why you categorize it as junk, so you can use the explanation to help your kids understand your approach.
If you do not think a show is junk, watch your kids’ reaction to it. Some shows are neither good nor bad, but the kids’ reaction to them may be the reason you should consider them unhealthy. For example, say your kids watch Superman and think they can fly from the window, this show is a bad influence on them, regardless of how many good messages there are in it. Observe your kids’ mood and behavior after watching various shows and listen to how they replay and recite parts of those shows later on.
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TV Diet (11): The Right TV diet
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.
TV Diet (10): Parents’ Influence
Parents do not like to admit, but their attitude and personality contributes a lot to their kids’ desire to watch TV. In this chapter of TV Diet, I will cover some of parents’ behaviors and personalities that drive kids to watch more and more TV.
As you read, I hope you do not find yourself there, but if you do, do not despair. You can turn things around. Of course, as is the “Family Matters” tradition, change will start with you and I will give you the solution (later in the series, so subscribe or come back to read).
TV Diet (9): Kids’ Personalities
In the past 8 weeks, I have written about the damaging effects of watching too much TV. Last week, I suggested measuring the amount of time your kids watch TV and keeping a record of the kinds of programs they watch. I hope this has given you a good understanding of what you are facing.
Today, I will cover kids’ personality types that are more subject to TV addiction and need a bit more care and attention.
TV Diet (8): How Much TV is Too Much?
As the name of this series of posts suggests, your family may need to go on a TV diet to minimize the damage done by excessive watching while still getting the benefits TV has to offer.
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.