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Break Kids' Diego Addiction

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Child behavior guru Noel Janis Norton tells you how to make your kids watch less TV.

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There are so many studies out there about how watching too much TV just isn't good for our kids' brains. That seems way apparent when you observe children watching TV—all open-mouthed and zoned out. And since most of us are in the habit of letting the kids watch TV in the mornings, we can't help but think our mornings are stressed enough without the added hassle of trying to extract them from the weirdly-captivating Go, Diego, Go!. How can we start this kind of new rule without suffering tantrums or total child-revolt? 

Here's a simple three-step solution from Noel Janis Norton, creator of the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting system...

"Of course your children will be upset, because you’re making a change that they don’t like. It’s okay for them to be upset. Here’s what I recommend to reduce the 'upset' and have a successful family transition to this new rule:

1. Make sure you and your partner agree on the new rule about TV so that you can back each other up.

2. Several days before you plan to start the new rule, and at a neutral time (dinner, bedtime, etc.), let your children know what the new rule is. Clearly tell them what the new rule is once and ONLY once: "Starting next Monday, we’re going to have a new rule about when you can watch television. The new rule is that there will be no TV before school. You can watch TV for a half hour in the afternoon after you’ve finished your homework."

3. The next step is to ask your children to tell you what the new rule is: "So what’s the new rule?'" Follow up with more questions so it is clear they understand. "And what day will we start it? And when will you be able to watch TV? And for how long?" This is called a 'talk-through,' and it is the best method to maximize the likelihood of your children cooperating by jogging their memory about the expectations. When they have to tell you, they are creating a mental image of themselves following the new rule. You are giving them the respect they deserve with a fair warning, and you can also empathize with how they may feel about it. "This new rule may make you feel angry or disappointed because you’ve been used to watching TV in the morning, and I know you love TV." If they ask you why you’re making this new rule, just remain calm and friendly and let them answer their own question. 'Good question. Why do you think Dad and I are making this new rule?" Kids always know the answers. If they say "I don’t know," just ask them to take a guess.

It’s important that whenever you are changing rules, that you have many 'talk-throughs' with your children about them, because it reduces their resistance. Talk-throughs always mean asking, not telling. When you ask them and they tell you, they are the ones doing the thinking, so whatever it is they need to do will stick in their long-term memory.

Don’t get drawn into arguments or start reasoning about the new rules. If they complain, you can respond and let them know you care and are on their side. "You’re probably upset because this is a rule you don’t like and you wish you could still watch TV before school." Once again, if they ask you why, just ask them to take a guess, and praise them for knowing the answer, or any part of the answer. If they say, "You’re doing it just to be mean," just stay calm and don’t rise to the bait. Just say something like, "I can see you’re angry about it." They will get over their upset feelings sooner if you don’t argue or reason. They will also soon learn that it doesn’t work to try and get you to argue or reason if they aren’t getting the kind of response they want."

We are trying this tomorrow.


next: Abstinence Idol
12 comments so far | Post a comment now
S January 17, 2008, 4:33 PM

my kids watch way too much tv. i am going to try this.

Judith January 17, 2008, 5:25 PM

We have been to Noel’s seminars and tried this and many other new rules. The kids now just know what the rule is and don’t even try to turn the TV on in the mornings. And our mornings are so much smoother!It also is nice to have as a reward for my son when he finishes the homework he otherwise would not be as motivated to finish.

Deb January 18, 2008, 10:48 AM

We have relied on Noel’s techniques for setting rules in our household for years, and they are pure gold. While they take time and effort and patience to implement, they really are effective and respectful and well worth the work. Even if you are not ready to remove all TV viewing in the morning, you can use the same technique for limiting it to a few minutes. If, like us, you actually have too much time in your morning before school begins, you can use TV (or playing a game, drawing, or any other activity that used to distract your child from getting ready in the morning) as the reward for cooperation in getting ready for the day. But any change in your routine, however small, will go much more smoothly if you follow Noel’s approach in setting the rule, using talk-throughs, and empathizing with your child over any resulting upset. Good luck!

Melanie January 18, 2008, 11:24 AM

I like the idea of the ‘talk-through.’ I can do this!

Sue January 18, 2008, 1:50 PM

We have successfully used Noel’s techniques to set TV limits in the past. Recently, we took it one step further, and made the rule of no screens (TV, computer, Gameboys) on school days Monday - Thursday. We did the talk throughs, but I was still excpecting a battle. The battle never came. The boys followed the rule without a fuss and the only thing they say about it is that they “can’t wait until Friday”.

Sue January 18, 2008, 1:52 PM

We have successfully used Noel’s techniques to set TV limits in the past. Recently, we took it one step further, and made the rule of no screens (TV, computer, Gameboys) on school days Monday - Thursday. We did the talk throughs, but I was still excpecting a battle. The battle never came. The boys followed the rule without a fuss and the only thing they say about it is that they “can’t wait until Friday”.

C January 20, 2008, 11:41 PM


We have found Noel’s approach to be quite effective. It requires thinking ahead to set your children up for success with good behavior rather than focusing on reacting to undesirable behavior.

Leslie January 23, 2008, 9:02 PM

the talkthrough really works! I’m going to use this technique for some other rules we need.

Leslie January 23, 2008, 9:05 PM

the talkthrough really works! I’m going to use this technique for some other rules we need.

Leslie January 23, 2008, 9:07 PM

the talkthrough really works! I’m going to use this technique for some other rules we need.

Amy  February 3, 2008, 10:19 PM

Noel’s techniques have worked miracles on my children. The talk-throughs have helped my child through fear of water and many of new rules. My son was torturing my daughter and Noel’s descriptive praise really turned him around and their relationship has blossomed.

Rachel February 16, 2008, 7:41 PM

My seven year old son and five year old daughter used to be glued to the TV. We tried the talk through, and it worked, but only partly.
I found that I also needed to give them an alternate thing to do. So instead of watching TV we could go to the park or play a game together.


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