The older your children get, the easier it may be to let them sit down and watch a television show without the guilt. They’re becoming more independent and you’re less concerned about the damaging effects of the occasional episode of an age-appropriate show.
I’m at this point with my oldest daughter now. She will gladly sit down to watch a show all by herself. But I’ve realized that there’s more than one good reason why I shouldn’t let her watch alone. Here’s why you should sit down and watch that next show with your big kid.
There’s always a teachable moment.
Teachable moments don’t disappear from television shows once your children have outgrown ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Dora the Explorer.’ There are always opportunities for discussion and education, no matter what you’re watching.
So the next time your son or daughter sits down for an episode of ‘iCarly’ or ‘Spongebob Squarepants,’ sit down and watch, too. Did they use a word you don’t like? Explain why. Was there an obscure reference to an old movie or book? Point it out (since they probably put it in there for attentive moms and dads, anyway).
Quality time is hard to come by.
As your children get older, they’ll go to school, get involved in activities, and spend more time with their friends than they will with their mom and dad. If the occasional television show together provides the opportunity for you and your child to sit, talk, and share a common interest, grab it and don’t let go!
Of course, turning off the television and playing games, getting outside, or doing a craft together is important, too. But there’s nothing wrong with bonding over an episode of a favorite show or a movie, either.
Kid’s shows aren’t always perfect for every kid.
Just because a television show is on a station with programming for children doesn’t mean the show (or even episode) is appropriate for your son or daughter. Before your child begins watching any new show, watch one episode of it on your own and one with your child. Some shows may contain content that’s slightly too old for your child or doesn’t match up with your value system.
If you do sit down with a child and decide they can’t watch a show any more, don’t be afraid to nix it from this point forward, even if they’ve been watching in the past.
You can learn a lot from how your children watch television.
Does your child leave the TV on and use it as background noise? Do they like to have it on when they do their homework? Or do they zone out and stare at the screen without blinking? How your children watch television can tell you a lot about them, and may play a role in how much TV you think is appropriate for them to watch on a regular basis. So take a look at how they watch, as well as what they watch and how much they watch.
Don’t use television to babysit your children, no matter their age! I can always think of things I should be doing. But the truth is, I love sitting down with my daughters and watching a movie together. Family movie night or the occasional episode of a show that we all enjoy brings us closer together. The girls love sharing their favorite characters with me, educating me on things that are cool, and I love getting the opportunity to learn from them sometimes, too.
Read more from this contributor:
Confessions of a toddler mom
Parenting no-nos you shouldn’t lose sleep over
Funniest TV families of all time