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