Today marks 12 days of no TV! Usually Saturday is my least favorite day of the week. My husband works on Saturdays 9:30am – 10pm which means that I have to take care of our kids by myself all day after watching the daycare kids all week (plus my kids). Saturday is like my non-day off. It’s the day I feel for all those single moms out there. I love my kids, but by Saturday I need a break from ALL kids. I usually would let them have free reign over the TV. Then somewhere between 9am and 11am, or even earlier depending on how much TV they had watched, the first meltdown would happen. Then another, and another. Then a fight. And another fight. Usually around 10:30 I would be yelling for them to get dressed so we could go to the park (aka get the hell out of the house.) They would never listen. I would usually end up dragging them out still in their jammys. There would be a huge fight to get into the car and despite going to the park the rest of the day was no better. I literally would loose my mind every Saturday.
Now looking back I can see that their “cabin fever” was actually TV induced crankiness. In fact, over the past 12 days there has been a huge reduction in meltdowns. I can only remember 2-3 times that our daughter was cranky and crying a lot and this was because of lack of sleep and a cold. I’m not good at math but compared to the 2-3 meltdowns daily we used to have I would say that is a 98% reduction in crankiness. Today I realized that unplugging our daughter has changed her behavior significantly and dramatically. She toddles around all day long playing little games she makes up, usually using items from around the house that are not even toys. The biggest change in her is that she plays with her brother now much more than she used to and with little or no fighting. I actually have heard them resolve conflicts on their own and quickly before they escalated into a huge problem.
Here is why eliminating all screen time has changed our four year old daughter. What happens when a child watches TV is that their brain becomes less active than while sleeping. When a child is left to play on their own and use their imagination the creativity centers of the brain light up. This also induces compassion, which is why she plays better with her brother. It creates an upward spiral where the more they use their brain the more confident and independent they feel. This is because they are not relying on an outward source of entertainment and happiness – which is what watching TV is. She also generally feels better because she is more physically active instead of incorporating sedentary screen time into her day several times a day. When my daughter needed quiet time she actually climbed into her brother’s crib and “rested” for about 20 minutes. She has done this several times now and I wonder what her mind is thinking about, processing, dreaming of…
This experience has been an amazing journey. It was easy. I highly recommended you just try it. You will be surprised how little they ask for a movie or a show. The first week we did have a family movie night and watched the classic Rudolf. After the second week we didn’t even need to have a family movie night because they were so engaged in their free play. Today I even got to shower, shave and give myself a pedicure – with little interruption. That would have been impossible a few weeks ago because I would have had to referee at least two fights in that time period. Our life was moving so fast and our kids growing up before our eyes. Now things have slowed down. Our TV still hangs in our living room. Occasionally they would ask for a show and we would say, “We made a mistake. Watching TV is not good for your body or your mind.” Then I would praise my daughter for how good her behavior has been and tell her all of the good changes I have noticed in her. She seems to get it completely. I am winning.
|Sharing Nolan’s fishing toys.|