Friday, May 29, 2009

TV Free Update

A week ago I turned off the TV for my kids when I couldn't stand my 7 year old's atrocious behavior. I wanted to encourage her to have more respect for adults so I took away the one thing that she really can't live without. She did get to watch over the weekend at her grandparents and I will let her have it back a little on the weekends, but life without TV was surprisingly okay. It was pretty unbelievable how everyone went from a "TV free for all" to "no TV" pretty easily. And my daughter was completely addicted to watching every waking moment. She even started to wake herself up at 5:30 am to do her homework and squeeze a few hours in BEFORE school. It was getting scary.

But, we just went four days without TV and everyone was totally fine. There were a few "But MOM, no one ELSE at my school doesn't get TV" moments. To which I said "No one else at your school treats their parents the way you treat me." That quieted her up pretty quickly. I can't say it was a miraculous transformation, but it was miraculous that it happened at all. This Friday night at 7 pm I said they could watch for an hour. They turned it on to watch and then turned it off themselves after 45 minutes when I asked if they wanted to see a picture of their cousin that I had gotten in an email. Several days without TV has left them more flexible and more interested in the real world, it seems.

All this week my kids climbed into bed with me in the morning and fought over who was going to be in the middle instead of heading for the couch in the living room. Plus, I didn't have Trading Spaces blaring loudly from the next room while I was trying to sleep. Life without TV is good. It even makes life WITH TV a little more special.

WHAT TO FEED YOUR KIDS: Try having a few TV free days if your kids are addicted or if you need a serious punishment for atrocious behavior. Years ago, Sharon Herzfeld, an NYU trained neurologist turned homeopath, suggested I read THE PLUG IN DRUG, a book about how everyone focuses on the content of TV being important when actually the harm in watching TV is that it displaces other activities completely. There is an interesting excerpt on Marie Winn's website.