Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Great No-TV trial

To bring you up to speed:
My husband & I agreed on "no TV while Dax is awake" when he was a baby, and we've stuck to that for us. If Dax is awake, the TV in our house is off. When he was younger, we even tossed a blanket overtop of it to hide it so he'd stay away from the buttons.

After he was a year old, I thought I'd introduce a DVD from the library to him. I think he was maybe 13 or 14 months old when he watched his first Baby Signing Time video. I watched it with him and we both signed. I checked out a video each week until we'd seen all that the library had, and our ASL vocabulary had really grown.

Then later, when he was maybe 18 months old, we watched an episode of Blues Clues, because the episode was all about Sign Language. Then he started getting to watch a maximum of 1 show (20-25 minutes) a day of either BC or ST. I was no longer watching with him most of the time, but was using this time to do projects, take a shower, clean up, etc.

So here's the problem - he was never done with TV. No matter how many times we let him know he'd get 1 show, he was always upset when it ended. There were even a few days (when he & I were sick) that I just let it play Blues Clues most of the day... like 5 hours. Okay, maybe it was just 4 or 5 episodes, but it seemed like A LOT and he just turns into a zombie staring at the screen. He's also watched more than his allotted time when I've left him with Daddy so I could go out alone for a couple hours on Saturday, and return to find that's all they did the entire time. I became concerned when he preferred TV even above playing outdoors or going swimming, his 2 favorite things.

Anyhow, I was reading someone's post on about how they cut out TV for 1 week just for a trial to see if they noticed any differences in the family, and were very surprised with the results. Reading about the changes they noticed in their kids, I decided to try it as well last week.
So no TV for Dax, not even his 1 show a day.
He was so mad. He stomped his feet. He had several tantrums. He tried to get the TV on anyway (I unplug it) by pulling the cord and trying to drag it to another outlet. He asked for it all day and would wake up at night asking for it. Sound like an addiction to you? It sure did to me! I was surprised how difficult the first 2 days were for him - it's not like he watched a lot anyway, you know!?

I also noticed, once that passed... he was more calm. He was more into creative and imaginative play. And, his great attention span for things like puzzles and building blocks had returned. He used to be able to build or play with his gears toys, very intently, for 30+ minutes straight... but that had stopped. I thought he'd outgrown it or was going through a phase, until I read about the no TV trial. Nope, it was the TV. Also - he was back to loving books. Reading books on his own, bringing many to me each day to read to him, and wanting books read over and over during our regular reading time rather than him wandering around as I read to him. This was the Dax I remembered and have missed.

I've come to the conclusion that TV is not okay for Dax. Not right now. It's clear to me that his developing brain just can't handle it. I thought it was making my life a little easier by getting a tiny bit of time each day, but overall it made Dax far more difficult to handle the rest of the time. He has fewer meltdowns now. He doesn't get upset the way he used to. All of that started when we started letting him watch daily TV, but I didn't notice at the time because it was somewhat gradual - and you never know with kids when they're teething or growth spurting or whatnot.
We'll try again in a few months, and let him watch just 1 episode as a one-time-only thing, and see if it affects his behavior. Maybe he would be able to handle a once a month or once a week 20 minutes, I don't know. I'm both sad and happy about this. Happy that he's easier to manage again, but sad that I had to take away something he really seemed to enjoy.
Oh, and after the first day of practically non-stop TV requests, the second day he asked for it a few times. After that, he'd ask once a day, usually when he was tired. Also - he's sleeping better, not fighting sleep as much, and not night waking asking for TV like he'd started doing.

So my little Daxling is TV-free again, for now.


~That Rain Girl said...

Interesting observations... I think I could do it, There are days we go without it at all, then days we actually do watch, and then days where its just background noise. I use it often to get my shower in though....

Makes me think for sure!

maryp said...

I used to like the TV on for background noise during the day. But lately we have been turning it off after the morning kid shows. I've noticed a difference since we have done that. Now I am going to watch Project Runway!