She’s always been a bit of a challenging child. She always seemed to have more energy, more passion, and more volume than other kids her age. She has always been demanding and resistant to instruction. She has Opinions and Big Feelings and an exasperating Lack of Need for Sleep.
But lately it just seemed worse. She whined, reveled in chaos, blatantly disobeyed us, and most annoyingly, kept complaining about being “sooo boooooooored.” She seemed to have lost her imagination. She wouldn’t play by herself. She just nagged and complained and followed me around, making messes and asking me to do things for her.
We were losing out wits. She was driving us crazy.
Finally Ben asked, “Do you think it’s TV?”
Lydia watched TV every single day. It was only 20-40 minutes a day — one or two episodes of Paw Patrol or Masha and the Bear on Netflix — but she bugged us about it constantly. Her TV time was the only quiet time I managed to get from her, so I gave in. But she never stopped nagging to watch more TV.
So we decided to cut her off.
I was reducing my own screen time for the season of Lent by taking all social media off my phone. I thought it might be a good time to also dramatically reduce Lydia’s screen time, too. It couldn’t hurt.
I explained to her that during these 40 days before Easter, I was going to stop looking at my phone all day and she was going to stop watching TV. It would be good for our hearts and minds, I told her, so we could think about good things. (We would still watch a movie as a family on Sunday, though.)
When she asked to watch TV the next day, we simply reminded her that we weren’t going to watch TV until Easter.
She complained the first couple of days. And then you know what? She completely forgot about it.
She hasn’t asked for TV in over a week.
By the second or third day we noticed she seemed calmer. She stopped throwing things around just for the fun of it. She was more agreeable when it came to bedtime.
And best of all: she started playing again.
She started playing with her Waldorf doll again, which she hadn’t touched in over a year. (Right now her doll is naked except for a Viking helmet — “That’s how warriors dress” — and is in engaged in a lively conversation with the sock monkey.) We made a batch of colourful play-dough, and she started making food for me, delivering it personally in her delivery car (aka Plasma Car).
I don’t notice the absence of that quiet time because she isn’t following me around all day, asking me to turn on a show or make things for her.
Life is so much better without TV. I have my imaginative little girl back.
I think screen time affects different children differently. I can’t say how turning off the TV would affect your children. But for us it has been a wholly positive experience.
We’ll see whether or not we bring it back after Easter. We just might leave things the way they are.
(Update 3 weeks later: you guys, it just keeps getting better. She’s starting to play outside on her own initiative, and her imagination keeps expanding. Banquets for her mop and broom [i.e. pony and unicorn], imaginative drawings [like an octopus in a poncho eating a sandwich] . . . I LOVE THIS.)