How To Break Your Toddler’s TV Addiction?

6 min read

Written by Pradeep


Is moving your tot away from the TV screen a daily battle in your house? Are you bothered that they are turning into a couch potato straining their eyes watching screen for long hours? Do you yearn that they rather ride their toy car or play hide-n-seek with the neighbor kids? TV is not only robbing your kid of childhood fun but also seriously impacts their health. Here is a guide to break your toddler’s TV addiction.

toddler watching tv

In This Article

Why is Your Toddler Addicted to TV?

Some people refer to the television as a “drug” – and like any other drug, it is addictive. Television can also alter the mind and incredibly stimulate young kids, with the vibrancy of colors, loud sounds, violence, which is strikingly different from the real world.

When a child should be inquisitive, asking questions and gathering information, they sit glued onto the TV screen, refusing to move or budge away. Why does a child, instead of exploring the world and asking questions about it, resort to sitting glued to a screen? The reasons could be as follows:

  1. Entertainment
  2. Imitate you
  3. Peer pressure and social currency
  4. You treat your television as a ‘baby sitter’
  5. They feel they have nothing else to do

As a matter of fact, screen time reduces your child’s capacity to entertain themselves, or to be occupied in developmental activities. A child keeps themselves busy in front of the TV and you will probably have a chance to breathe and allow you breaks to attend to other chores. But it will deter your child from realizing their complete educational potential in due course of time.

Harmful Effects of Watching Excessive TV on Toddlers

Let’s see how excessive TV viewing harms your kid:

1. Obesity

Unhealthy eating habits and junks are promoted by the commercials in between the programs. Kids just want to eat everything that gets flashed on the screen and it makes it difficult for parents to administer healthy eating habits.

2. Poor Social Development

Kids prefer spending time watching TV rather than playing with peers. At an age where interaction is the main step towards development, a child who just sits glued to the TV stays away from socialization. This negatively affects the social and cognitive behavioral skills of a child.

3. Aggressive Behavior

Violence, aggressive tones and language, and action is considered as acceptable behavior to solve problems. You may end up hearing unpleasant words and your child may take violence as a way of life. Remember, toddlers are highly impressionable! Your toddler may just take cues from the TV and you may be left feeling like a bad parent.

4. Stunted Physical, Mental, and Emotional Development

A kid who sits on the couch and does nothing but moves eyelids will have a stunted physical growth. Though they may not look busy to you, they have really important developmental work to do by engaging in the world that is real- and not imaginative.

Instead of exploring the world, and asking you questions, they will simply sit munching their snack on the couch. They also miss out on their emotional development because they do not interact with people.

5. Deteriorated Eyesight

A kid’s eyes get strained from watching TV and excessive watching could result in a deteriorated eyesight early in life. Strained eyes could cause headaches too.

6. Introversion

Excessive TV leads to trouble for kids while adjusting in preschool or kindergarten. They become less cooperative, imaginative and enthusiastic because they are unable to communicate effectively by reading and writing. These kids have a hard time transitioning from being ‘visual learners’ to becoming ‘listening learners’ when they join school.

7. Lowered Intelligence

Children who watch TV a bit too much have trouble recognizing letters and numbers when they go to school. Intelligence is the result of observing, thinking and understanding. Like other organs, the brain needs to be exercised. But , excessive watching of TV offers no exercise to the brain.

watching tv

8. Delayed Language Skills

A child who does not interact will have speech and language problems. Passive listening to TV will only hinder language development. And your toddler’s attempts to communicate will also diminish gradually.

9. Increased Vulnerability to ADD/ADHD

The period from birth to three years is crucial and is a phase of rapid development. TV happens to rewire the child’s brain which leads to a shorter attention span and problems related to concentrating. Kids should be effectively stimulated to enhance communication skills.

10. Learn the Wrong Things

Tv depicts life in an unnatural and cartoonish way. A child who watches a lot of TV would perceive that life is a game with a button on it. Impulsiveness will rule the mind and patience will take a backseat.

How to Break Your Toddler’s TV Addiction?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under two years of age, and just about 2 hours at the max for kids above two years. Here are a few tips to wean your Toddler’s TV Addiction:

1. Transform Home and Family

To get rid of TV from your child’s life, you will have to make certain changes in your family and home, such as follows:

  • Remove TV from your tot’s bedroom. Let him associate bedroom for sleeping before listening stories.
  • If possible, use built-in hidden TV cabinets. This tames habitual watching.
  • Move the TV farther to the top floor. Keep it off and remote out of your kid’s reach.
  • Disable TV/VCD from your car.

2. Provide Alternates

It is likely that your kid resorts to TV for entertainment and passing time rather than moving somewhere and spending their energy. Engage them with:

  • Sticker/coloring books
  • Board games/toys/cards/Lego bricks
  • Story books
  • Art/craft/drawing materials

3. Organize Your Tot

Best way to curb toddler’s TV addiction is to keep them busy:

  • Arrange play dates
  • Enroll them in sports classes
  • Plan outings to museums, planetariums, live theater. This kind of interactive experience offers learning and cultural encouragements

Read more on organizing play dates here.


4. Set a Good Example

Avoid watching TV while your kid struggles with the homework or trying to study. If you ‘shh’ them while watching your favorite show,” that’s the attitude they eventually adopt. Instead, read books or write diaries to give an impression that TV is not the only pleasant experience.

5. Watch TV Programs Not Just the TV

Let your kid decide what they want to watch. TV watching should not simply be a mind-numbing time pass activity. It should be actively attended to and not stared at blankly. Keep the set turned off when no one is watching. It is distractive.

6. Don’t Set Daily Limits

This will avoid sending the message that there’s a certain amount of time they “should” be watching every day. Let days pass without TV. Daily viewing easily becomes a habit and children tend to squeeze out their TV time from anywhere.

7. Prohibit TV and Videos During Play-Dates

Kids need time to play and interact with their peers, wherein television only acts as an impediment. Use your right to exercise a firm “No”.

8. Watch Together

This provides opportunity to talk about what your tot thinks is going on. Ask questions, comment during commercials. This inspires critical thinking.

9. Record Shows

It saves viewing time and lets you zip through the ads promoting junk food, violent movies, and toys. Ditch the cable/regular TV connection. Use internet TV to watch specific shows.

10. Be Firm

Don’t give in to your kid’s tantrums. Kids who don’t drink sodas growing up don’t usually develop a taste for them. The same applies for the TV. Don’t just think about the kid you are dealing with now – think about the adult you are raising them to be.

11. Encourage Old Fashion Play

Playing boosts imagination, creativity, social cooperation, and physical movement. This is pivotal for emotional and social development. A simple game of marbles —-would help your child develop their motor skills for life whereas TV would not help do the same.

12. Treat TV as Privilege

Take advantage of the TV to show things which your kid might not otherwise see in daily life. Such as exotic animals, distant lands, musical instruments, historical places, and diverse lifestyles.

13. Play Videos Which Teach Manners and Moral Values

TV is just one confusing array of bright, flashing light and noises for your tot. They may not be able to comprehend everything. They will not be able to distinguish between the truth and pretension on TV. This may paint a picture of a frightening and awful world out. Their neural development is further affected by the hypnotic effect of TV.

Does TV Teach Children Violence?

Lets run through your TV channels for once. News of terrorism, violence, burglary, murder would be everywhere. Even the general soaps have drama these days. What is the child learning? Many studies have concluded that TV makes a child more aggressive, and they tend to desensitize human values. The concept of “good guys” beating “bad guys” can impact the children to be like their “good guys” on TV and they may conclude that “violence” is acceptable to tune in good behavior. Kids would accept violence and aggression is the only way to solve problems.

Children were previously raised without TV and you can do it too. Once addicted, turning off the TV can become a daily battle. So act now! Risking your child’s development is too high a price to pay for keeping them busy and giving you a bit of free time.


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