October 31, 2018


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.

This post originally appeared on Common Sense Media.


Share your comments below

  • Oh the joys.. I don’t have too much of a problem if the show is over, but trying to turn it off because we have to go somewhere, it’s bed time, or whatever reason is another story. Luckily the promise of finishing it tomorrow usually calms her down.


  • Setting up expectations and being consistent with follow through is important


  • If you have a routine and stick to it no matter what, then there will be no problem.


  • week day mornings the children are not allowed to turn the TV on until they are ready to walk out the door to go to school. including lunches packed by themselves and other things put in school bags. It is a great incentive for them to make sure they are ready in plenty of time.


  • Agree that routine is the answer. Helps us for sure


  • Great tips.
    My son is watching tv (45 min) just before bath . I am always reminding him when is a last episode of cartoon and then we need brush his teeth. Sometimes we are asking him to bring puzzle to do and he is vey happy to switch from tv to puzzles.


  • Screen time can become an issue especially now days. It’s important for kids to learn about balance and run around the backyard.


  • Prepare the kids for how long they can watch, prior to turning on the tv. They might need to hear this every single time (repeat, repeat, repeat). Setting a good old egg-timer can help.


  • My kids always had set tv times and favourite shows, with some exceptions for the weekend and holidays. I still had some issues when it was time to switch off tho


  • Routine is the key. A time and place for everything.


  • Useful information, but i dont have these issues atm


  • I need this for getting my kids off their ipads!


  • What age does this become an issue?


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