Stopping TV/Computer addiction

Published: 07th October 2010
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More and more, parents report a difficulty concerning children's TV addiction. "It is very annoying" Parents say. "The child indifference shows no respect!" they complain.

Indeed, it is not pleasant to talk to someone who does not listen. It is very easy for parents to complain about their inattentive child, but - are these parents being attentive to their children who watch television? In many cases, parents think they are, when in fact, they are not. If parents would look at a child who watches TV before they address him, they will see that the child does not notice them. Parents hold on to a fantasy in which the moment they talk to their child, the child immediately turn all his attention to the parent (and of course cooperate). But that's a fantasy. In reality, it is hard for the child to notice a parent (or any other stimuli for that matter) when they watch TV. This ability is not developed among children at early childhood. When a parent speaks to a child who does not listen to him, a parent can get angry with the child. To avoid that, patent's need to make sure that the child listens to them before they continue talking (call the child's name and only when the child looks at you, continue). As a parent, you ask your child not to disturb you when you are on the phone. As a parent, you are also asked to look at your child and see if he is in a listening positioning before you categories him as un respectful.

Another difficulty that characterized this addiction is the fact that children do not want to stop watching TV since its fun. Furthermore, they hate to stop it the second you asked them to. Parents on their part may have a very good reason to ask the child to stop to watch TV instantly. Even so, they still expect the child to stop doing something they love, and moreover, to do so with love and understanding. To understand how difficult that is, I dare you readers to think about a situation where you're immersed in something that you love doing, when suddenly you are asked to stop it at once? Many parents interpret their child's reluctance to comply with an immediate request, as undermining their parental authority. Instead, I suggest that it is the parents who do not respect the child or his developmental limitations. Respectful approach means that the parent should wait for the end of the show and address the child, or ask the child to stop to watch TV after the show ends. It is also recommend giving an indication during the show, that it will be the last one.

Another difficulty is the parental expectation that the child, on his own, will not only stop watches the TV, but also to do something else instead. Many children have difficulty finding an alternative and need the help of their parents to do that. Furthermore, parents usually offer an alternative which sounds more like a punishment than as a fun option (as they scream "go play with your lego"). The way children learn if an alternative is fun or not, is influenced by the parent's willingness to engage in that activity with them. Many parents tell the children to go get busy with something else, while they themselves continue to do the same thing and can't bring themselves to get up and play with their child.

Something to think about (You may also want to internalize and implement…)

•When you want to thee a child something while he is engaged in something else, before you speak, call the child's name and wait for a response. Once you make sure the child is listening, continued talking. Make sure that the child keeps looking at you since their attention can easily be distracted. It's less frustrating to realize that you said only one word and find out that no one listened, than to finish a whole monolog and then realize it.
•The end of a show is a good time to talk to them or ask them to stop watching TV. At that time, they experience less "loss" and may be more attentive and cooperative.
•If you can not or do not want to wait for the end of the show, silence the TV, and make sure the child looks at you when you talk.
•Be focused and short when you talk to the child who watches TV (this is not the time for philosophical talks).
•If you want the children to do something else instead of watching TV, make sure to provide them with an attractive alternative. This may require you to be with them.

Bottom line: If you want the children to respect you, then respect them. Show them how it is done right.

The same strategy can be considered when trying to wean children from other addictive activities (such as candy eating, computer playing etc.).

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