In our lives BC (before children!), it is very common for parents-to-be to talk quite openly about how “there is no way that we are going to let our children behave in the way that other parents allow theirs to!”
Our children will be different!
How many times have we heard that our pregnant friends will never allow their toddlers to sit in a supermarket trolley and nibble the end of the baguette, or open a packet of crisps before they get to the checkout!?
As parents-to-be, we are always full of great intentions and plan to bring our children up to be well behaved, perfectly mannered and that we will never just sit them in front of the television to watch a DVD while we get on with the housework or chat to our friends!
A bit of peace and quiet
But life doesn’t always quite work out the way we thought it would. As our lives change and our children grow, it is perfectly natural and acceptable for us to want a bit of peace and quiet from time to time. If this means a few minutes in front of the TV, then so be it.
However, for one couple, their plan to allow their child to watch TV while they spent time together chatting eventually backfired, and what should have been an attempt to create less stress in their lives actually created more.
Jake: A Case Study
Lisa explained: “It just started with a few minutes in front of the TV after school. Jake was always tired and a bit weary and it seemed to be a good way for him to unwind and settle down for the evening. At first it was fine and suited us all, but as time went on we realised that he was watching more and more television, and to be honest the biggest mistake we ever made was allowing him to have a TV set in his room.”
Major Behavioural Changes
Lisa added: “Jake was 10 when he had his own TV in his room and this is just too young. He became hopelessly addicted to various programmes and, as he got older, these became more and more unsuitable. When we tried to get him to stop watching TV as much, Jake Threw Major Tantrums and was a complete nightmare to deal with.”
A Vicious Cycle
“Because Jake’s behaviour became increasingly difficult, we would give in and let him watch TV. It was just easier than trying to tackle him about it and we honestly thought that he would grow out of it. The crunch came when we had a call from another parent to say that Jake’s behaviour had been pretty intolerable during an after school play date, and asked us what was going on. We discovered that Jake hadn’t wanted to play with the other child at all and was rude and irritable. After speaking to Jake about this, it became clear that his behaviour was being really badly affected by his TV watching.”
School Work was Suffering
“Trying to get Jake away from the TV to do his homework was almost impossible, and because he was staying up so late at night to watch programmes, his school work was suffering, too. We had negative feedback from his teachers who said that Jake was sulky, quiet and unresponsive in lessons, as well as very sleepy a lot of the time. Although it seems so obvious now, it took us ages to pluck up the courage and remove the TV from his room. We also banned him from watching TV in the living room with us for a while, too. We should have done this a long time ago, but when you can see your child’s behaviour getting worse, you just want to do something for him that you know will make him happy.”
Better Times Ahead
Lisa added: “Jake is 13 now and still really enjoys TV programmes but we have set times for watching programmes. We asked him to choose his favourite three things to watch on TV and he is always allowed to watch those programmes, provided they are on at a reasonable time and that his homework is done first. We make a point of getting out in the fresh air every day for a walk with the dog, and at weekends we have certain times when we all chill out and relax in front of the TV for a while. Jake is much happier, healthier and less moody and his school work is much better, too. I would urge parents to think very carefully about how much TV their kids watch because it could end up being a complete nightmare.”