My son is almost 4yo, too much addicted to cartoons, in fact he started repeating the accent and copying attitudes as well.

Is it common behaviour in pre school kids? Do I need to forcefully control his watching habits or should I let him watch?

This may be a silly question to ask but might be faced by many of us.

Please help me in identifying problems in this, please let me know if I am worrying too much; TV, mobile phones and internet are all available to him at home. I am sure this must not be a new problem, I just need to know what should be my right behaviour on this, if someone had cracked this puzzle share your thoughts.

He is a single child at home, this may be the reason he is so attracted towards cartoons.

He hardly sits in one place, he continuously runs from one place to another. It's only television which keep him in one place for hours, sometimes both my partner and I allow him to watch TV just to avoid the running around.

I grew up in an age where we could barely watch TV or cartoons but these days I am not sure how to control it as so many options are available.


  • Welcome to Parenting SE. I am not sure what you are asking and this is a question and answer site. If you want to know how much TV time is okay for 4 year olds, please edit the question. It might be you are asking how to control the TV. I am unsure.
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 13:45
  • i know that when I read a lot of historical books i start talking like those people, it isn't just children. I even caught myself saying 'thou' one day.
    – WendyG
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 8:21
  • You wrote you allow him to watch TV to avoid his running around. Since I consider running around perfectly normal, healthy and beneficial for a 4yo, could you please add, why you don't want him to run around? And how much physical activity does he get during the day? Is it possible to find alternatives (e.g. you don't want him to run in the flat, but can go outside with him to run)?
    – Arsak
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 17:14

5 Answers 5


For the copy behaviour in general: it is normal for everyone and I am sure you are doing that as well. Humans copy the ones they admire and the ones the see as good. Also kids run, they need to run and they will do it. Sadly many parents these days are fast to see problems or even disabilities in just normal behaviour. If there is something where he can get physical exhaustion with, like playing with other children on a playground or similar, let him do that as much as possible and he will get less "jumpy" elsewhere.

For the cartoons. To limit time is the worst idea. It not only makes it more interesting, but time limits are arbitrary limits without any base in reality, and your kid will feel that.

Better limit it this way:

  1. He has do be done with all his chores, if he doesn't have any give him some, like keeping his room clean and maybe some small job within the home.
  2. Find out what his most liked shows are and limit it to the time these are running. Something like you can watch the episodes of these two shows every day but not watch random nonsense.

  3. Involve him in planning, if he wants to see his shows, he needs to know when they are running, and plan ahead, you can "teach" him that by purposely setting some appointments on the same time his shows are running and tell him about these appointments two or three days early (with the time of course), and when he fails to see the connection (he certainly will fail in the first times) and tries to get out when the day of the appointment is there, explain him, that you told him and that he didn't intervene then and so can't just change plans now.

  4. Look at yourself, your kid will compare his behaviour with yours and see hypocrisy.

It will definitely take some time and a good amount of work until he has changed his behaviour, but it definitely will pay off later when he goes to school.

  • I think most families with children have the problem that adults watch TV while wishing to curtail the amount their child watches. I am not sure it is hypocrisy. I drink one glass of wine with dinner some nights, but my 16 y/o does not. She knows she will be allowed to drink alcohol when she is older. I am not a hypocrite when I say that she can't drink now, even though I do some days. However, if a parent never turns off the TV, their little sponge will see everything that they do. We only watched adult shows at night after she went to bed. I really like your scheduling idea.
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 13:36
  • @Willow Rex Alcohol damages children more than adults, also you need much less to get a child drunk. So from that perspective alone, you have a reason, why you can drink wine and your kid shouldn't. Also it is a law and you are forbidden to give her alcohol. So if there is hypocrisy, it isn't from you. Of course your Kid should know these things as well or it might see it as unfair. For TV on the other hand there are no such reasons, children aren't more effected than adults and if you tell your kids only two hours a day and you yourself watch about 5 or 6 hours, your kids will see that.
    – Etaila
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 7:29
  • Where I grew up, children were allowed wine when they were with their parents. My parents allowed me to have a small glass of wine once or twice a week. I think it was right to teach us moderation, but wrong to give alcohol to a minor. So it depends on where you grow up. Also, adults are fully formed intellectually, so TV, though a brain drain, isn't as bad for adults as it is for children. Adults should model better habits though -- especially exercise! It rarely works to say "do as I say, not as I do".
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 15:48
  • 1
    @WillowRex I was allowed alcohol as a child as well, mostly because my parents knew I wouldn't like it. In the end, I started drinking alcohol only in my middle twenties because of that, and even then just a small shot after a meal at a restaurant that I go only once or twice a week. Making not a big deal of alcohol is definitely the best way to prevent alcoholism in the later years. And I disagree with you saying that TV doesn't affect adults as much as children, I am very aware of myself and still catch myself from time to time mimic movie behaviour after watching one.
    – Etaila
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 9:50
  • I have never mimicked TV behaviour except consciously and intentionally. (I defy anyone to not quote The Princess Pride! ) but I also know that we are all different and that would not have occurred to me. So thanks for pointing that out.
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 12:37

There will be many different opinions, but I agree with this article's approach: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/screen-time/art-20047952

For ages 2-5, limit to 1 hour of quality screen time per day. I think that watching TV is one of the worst developmental habits for young children because they don't have to do anything. It overstimulates them with fast-paced images. I think an educational game on a tablet or computer is a better quality screen time. There will be some interaction and mental thinking involved.

Again, there will be differing opinions on this, but I am a proponent of using the parental control features on TVs and devices. If the child cannot control themselves to obey the time limits, then I would use the parental controls until they can.

Sounds like your child is one of those high-energy kids who can't sit still for long. You can try burning off their energy by having him play sports or games outside the house. Or require him to do some other activities before he gets his 1 hour of TV (maybe a puzzle). I would save the TV time for the end of the day when you are exhausted and need a break.


It is not detrimental for kids to watch TV. It might however take away time for other activities, that are beneficial to the child. Also, specific shows on TV might be bad content for a child. But good shows will be beneficial to the child.

But really, ask yourself why he is watching so much TV? I'd say there are two general possibilities:

1) The child just really loves cartoons. In that case, let him do this favourite activity. You can use it as the carrot when things need to be done, but don't limit it as a punishment.

2) The child watches cartoons because he is bored. In that case it is important to look into stimulating him more. Find ways to stimulate both his mind and his body. At 4 he will be able to figure out what kind of activities he likes and which he doesn't. Help him find out and keep him occupied with those more. As an only child he will need someone to play with (if his social need is within standard range). Arrange playdates so he can play with other children and play with him yourself a lot too. Don't limit the TV-time, just present him with other options. If you limit the TV-time, it will seem like a punishment, and since he has done nothing wrong, that would be detrimental. If he really is just bored, the other options will be a nice break for him.

In any case, you might want to teach him to read comics. I could read comics at 4, I mostly read the images, but slowly I got the text too. If he loves cartoons, comics might be right up his alley. As a bonus he will be better at reading than the others when he goes to school. Early reading is strongly correlated with later academic success.


At four, I'd try to keep TV to an hour a day, 2 at most on weekends. That is what I would choose. You and your partner need to decide what you think, but the going rate is under 2 -- no TV and after 2, no more than 1- 2 hours. LINK to CNN article

I think you should try to err on the cautious side. You should be watching TV with him or in the same room, so the time should not be a problem.

Have you tried getting him in swim lessons or Little League/ art classes? I know it is very time consuming to be the parent of a young child. Perhaps you could do some things with him as a family, some with just you and some with just your partner?

  • Good answer. It's a hard rule to follow at times, but it's a good rule.
    – dgo
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 21:59

Kids soak up what they see and hear. My son could recite whole parts of the dialog in the stories we read him. Then he started whatching cartoons and the characters from the cartoons started filling his imagination. He talks about the stories from the cartoons and he playes out similar ones with his toys. I think it is important to control what children whatch because they are so influenced by it.

Whatching TV can be detrimental because it takes time away from activities that would challenge the child mentally and/or physically. In addition, more time spend looking at a screen is correlated with higher odds of near-sightedness.

On the other hand, children love it and it gives us a chance to cook dinner, make breakfast or take a quick shower uninterrupted.

Good answers in this thread already give rules of thumb of how much TV time is ok. For the rest try to keep him active and challenged. Ballgames, play with water in summertime, go to a playground. Get him glue and scissors and do some crafting. Make magic potion from stuff you have in the kitchen, then freeze it.

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