Helping kids regulate their own media use is an ongoing process, and along the way you’re likely to experience some struggles when it’s time to turn off the TV or any other digital device.
When it’s time to transition from TV watching to another activity, using prerecorded shows comes in handy. On traditional broadcast TV, one show flows into another, but when you use the DVR, a DVD, or even a streaming-video service, your kid can turn off the TV when the show is over.
If you don’t have any of these options, consider using the “watch later” feature on YouTube. The site allows you to select and add videos to a playlist. Your kids can simply watch what you’ve selected together.
To mitigate the meltdowns, try these things:
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Have a plan. Explain beforehand to your kid that he or she can watch a certain number of shows or for a specific time period. Let them know what to expect after the show, too.
Create a routine. Kids who know they have to turn off the TV before a specific activity (like dinner) can sometimes transition more easily.
Show your kids how to turn off the TV. They may enjoy practicing that skill, and it will give them some power over their situation, which they’ll appreciate.
Avoid back-to-back shows. If you’re using a streaming service, disable the setting that automatically plays the next show in a series.
Try giving a two-minute warning. Prepping kids for the inevitable works for some.
Turn it off and stick to your guns. Some kids react better when they’re not warned in advance that the show is ending — possibly because they’ve come to expect the fight.
Give praise. If your child successfully transitions to another activity without a meltdown, show your appreciation. Say something like, “Thanks for turning off the TV and coming to set the table!” Kids will be more likely to follow through again when they have a positive experience.
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