Why I Let My Kid Watch Too Much TV

parenting ipad television dangers too much tv

Phoebe had a head cold two weeks ago. Last week, as she was getting better, I caught her cold. Neither of us had any energy, so I downloaded Netflix onto her iPad. Since then, she’s been watching Littlest Pet Shop every single day.

We aren’t sick anymore, but she’s still lethargic, and she still really wants to watch TV. A lot. Every day.

TV is brain candy, so I’m getting really stressed out about it. How much TV is too much TV?

PARENTS WANT WHAT’S BEST

Phoebe is an only child, and I’m a homemaker. Naturally, I focus on her. A lot.

I actively have to stop myself from micro managing her. I know she needs freedom. I want her to figure out what kind of person she wants to be, without a helicopter parent monitoring her every move. But it kills me when she puts her shirt on backwards. I can’t stand it. I make her turn her shirt around the right way. I probably should just tell her I like it, but I don’t like it and it drives me nuts.

Maybe, if I had another kid crawling around and making messes, I’d just be thankful Phoebe dresses herself. But we don’t have another kid to take the heat off Phoebe. So I give in to nit-picking, against my better judgment.

I keep debating whether her obsession with Littlest Pet Shop is as harmless as a backwards shirt. I ask myself: “Should I ride this out? Should I let her find her own balance? Or should I step in and cut her off??”

BLAMESHIFTING

To top it all off, Phoebe has been really disobedient lately. She’s fighting with me, hitting me, getting mad at me…all things that are very atypical for her.

I want to blame her outbursts on the TV. Then I want to take away the TV, and have my sweet baby back. I want to fix her.

But would the TV just be a scapegoat?

There are other reasons she could be acting out. She’s at the three-and-a-half-year mark, so she is probably going through a period of emotional development. Plus, she still misses Matt a lot, even though he’s been working two jobs for over two months. Also, this may sound odd, but she misses my car. My car broke down and we sold it, but we haven’t replaced it yet, so Phoebe and I are stuck at home most of the time. Even when we are borrowing a friend’s car, Phoebe still tells me, “I miss your car, Mama.” I tell her, “I know. I miss it, too.”

FEELERS GOTTA FEEL

I am feeling inadequate as a parent. So I wanted to arm myself with more knowledge. I asked Cassie to help me pin point Phoebe’s personality type. I figure: if I can understand Phoebe better, I will know how to parent her better.

As it turns out, Phoebe is an ISFP. I really love this description of an ISFP child. It is spot on for Phoebe, and reading it helped illuminate a few things about my cranky kiddo:

  • She naturally wants harmony.
  • She needs soothing.
  • She will obsess about favorite things and people.
  • She needs a safe environment for expressing feelings.

If Phoebe is acting out, she must be working through something major. So, when Phoebe freaks out about something, the best way to parent her is to help her channel her feelings into an acceptable form of expression.

The other day, she found a dead bumble bee on the kitchen floor, and bawled about it for half an hour. I tried to hug her and let her cry. I tried to let her know it was safe to feel what she was feeling. But it was hard. It was extraordinarily hard. My ears hurt, and I had a headache for hours afterwards.

parenting ipad television netflix dangers too much tv

LET IT BE

I think, when she is sad, the worst thing I can do is try to fix her.

Right now her TV show brings her comfort. I think ripping it out of her life would be cruel and unnecessary, and she would just take it personally.

The best thing I can do for her is invite her to engage with me: to go to the park, to paint, to help wash dishes. But I need to give her the control. She gets to choose if she wants to be with me or to keep watching her TV show. I believe giving her the power of choice will help her feel more secure about her environment and her life.

If she wants to watch Littlest Pet Shop all afternoon, I’ll pop my head in, rub her back, and bring her a snack.

And I’ll remind myself: she never does this. She never watches TV like this. It must be important to her.

So I will trust her to figure it out.

— Erin

2 Responses to Why I Let My Kid Watch Too Much TV

  1. Audrey Turco September 20, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    I was gifted several “Littlest Pet Shop” play sets. I would love to gift a set to Phoebe! It’s a play shop and accessories. I can text you a picture. Let me know if you’re interested. And BTW – stop being so hard on yourself sweets!! Luv you!

    • ekwetzel September 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

      Audrey – Oh you are so sweet! Yes, i know I’m being “hard on myself,” but these thoughts are honestly what runs through my head. Also I know that, if I had another kid, I probably wouldn’t care as much. But TV is a taboo topic, and people who let their kids watch TV tend to not talk about it.

      About the toys, I appreciate the offer! But we are actually truing to declutter right now, so I think I’ll pass. Thanks for thinking of us, though!

      <3 Erin