How Much TV Is Too Much For Your Toddler

At least one third of households have their TV turned on all the time. This I can understand. But would you believe one in four children under the age of 2 have a TV in their bedroom?

Parents and pediatricians are now questioning how much TV is too much. Is it affecting toddlers' attention spans? Is it causing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? New studies are saying that it is a factor. The more TV your toddler watches, the greater their risk of developing attention difficulties. Too much of the tube is also a factor in childhood obesity.

Here's some more food for thought. If your toddler watches TV all day, when do they have a chance to use their own imagination? Where have the days gone when going outside to play was the solution for boredom?

When I was a kid, my grandmother would make me go outside and play. If it was cold outside, I would dress up really warm. You wouldn't dare tell her you were bored, or she would give you chores to do. So, I would stay outside for hours. I had to use my imagination and find ways to cure my boredom. I would make snow forts, slide down the hills on a sled and play with the animals.

Today, most parents are turning to TV to keep their kids entertained. And why wouldn't they? With shows like Barney, Arthur, and Boohbah, you could easily keep your child glued to the TV all day long.

But here's the kicker. An average 3-year old should be physically active for about an hour a day. But studies have shown that they are only active for 20 minutes. And we wonder why so many kids are becoming obese!

There are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of TV your kids watch. There are also lots of things to do instead of being a couch potato.

- One reason your child might be watching more TV is because they like the music. Instead of turning on the TV for them, put on a CD.

- Don't eat in front of the TV. Make mealtime a chance for your family to sit together and talk.

- Try offering rewards to your toddler for not watching TV.

- Distract your toddler with other things, like toys or puzzles. Don't leave the TV running in the background.

- Go outside and let your child explore. Going for walks will introduce your toddler to new things, but letting them walk instead of riding in the stroller will also help increase their physical activity.

- Reading books is a very important part of your toddler's life. It encourages and enhances their imagination. It's also fundamental for their language development.

Make sure you discuss your "TV rules" with family members and any other caregivers.

Here's another reason to turn off the TV. Not only will you have a more active toddler, you might improve your own relationship with your partner by interacting and communicating more. This is beneficial for both you and the kids by showing a good example.

You don't have to take your kid back to the stone ages, but keeping their day filled with a variety of activities is important for their growth and development. They will thank you when they're older.

Cassandra Germsheid is the owner of Baby Tips Online (http://www.babytipsonline.com). She is a stay at home mother but sometimes works part time for her local newspaper.

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