How To Manage Screen Time For Toddlers
I have been following Jayme (@TeachTalkInspire) for a while now and felt so inspired by all that she shares. She has given me a lot of parenting tools over the years, and I recently noticed that we share a very similar philosophy around screen time. I loved what she did for her daughter and asked her to share that with our community. Below is her huge tip that I thought was super helpful.
Why We Created A TV Choice Menu For Our Toddler
My daughter watches TV every day. Yes, I said it. We make a point to have screen time as part of our daily routine each day. And that has been going strong since she was about 2 years old. It is a tool in my mom toolbox that I use to work for me. It has helped me get a break when I need it as a stay-at-home mom, and it has also provided time for me to get work done which fills my cup.
I know that screen time has a lot of negative connotations along with it, and it is something we should be mindful, especially for our children under 2 years of age. Their brains are developing at such a rapid rate and it’s essential for us to give them the time, the space, and the experiences to do just that away from screens.
But, for the sake of using TV time as a tool, I want to share some of the ways that I have helped keep screen time manageable in our home.
I started really paying attention to the TV shows that my daughter was consuming when she was getting close to 3 years old. I realized that some shows made her more irritable than others, especially when I would try to turn them off. Some TV shows she was watching caused for much bigger reactions and even tantrums. I started to be able to make the connection back to the actual programs she was watching and worked diligently to try and find TV shows that wouldn’t have such an effect on her. I am excited to share some ways we have cut down on screen time and the shows we have found that are less stimulating for her.
When it comes to screen time in your home, I want it to make it work for you. Use screen time as a tool in your daily routine toolkit. I make sure to use screen time during a time when I need it. Like while I'm making lunch or dinner at the end of the day and need a mental break. Fit it into your schedule. For ages 2-5 it is said that 1 hour of screen time per day is appropriate (according to the AACAP 3 hours on the weekends). Now, you must do what is right for your family and that is why the kinds of programs you watch matter too.
Some days do we do more? Yes. Some days do we do less? Yes. The TV shows I have found that work best for my daughter are less stimulating to watch, meaning they are not super colorful or have quick scene changes. They do not have an antagonist or a villain per se. They show realistic scenarios that help the characters problems solve with each other. The shows may even provide a valuable life lesson at the end as well. Once I started recognizing that the kinds of shows that my daughter watched mattered, I started creating a TV show choices menu for her with shows that I knew were less stimulating for her.
I would leave this TV show choices menu out on the coffee table for her to see and then she would pick a show off of that menu for the day. It still gave her some control because she was choosing from a variety of choices, but the choices were dictated by me.
I have a few freebies to share with you if this TV show choice menu sounds like it may be a helpful tool in your parent toolkit as well.
I hope having these suggestions and new tools that you are better equipped to manage screen time in your home and make it a healthy habit that works for you.
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