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Our 5-year-old daughter loves cartoons. She can watch them all day, unless we take the phone from her. She says she's bored otherwise. I should probably also mention that she's so impatient that the moment a cartoon ends, she asks us if we can check whether there's another cartoon.

Yesterday, I, my wife and our daughter went to a nearby island to have a good time. We had a nice meal there (of course, she watched some cartoons towards the end) and wandered off to see some beautiful scenery. Our daughter started nagging about her wanting to watch some cartoons where we said no, she can't because we are here as a family to have a good time. She began complaining that she's bored. The whole thing ended with her getting banned from watching cartoons for an indefinite time. We all sulked.

We would like her to stop watching cartoons and complaining, so we can enjoy the family time together. How could we have handled this situation better?

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TLDR;

This needs work long term. My approach would be to:

  1. Limit the screen time.
  2. Do not have any screens when out of the house (unless the hosts propose watching something).

Long version:

My kids love watching TV and playing video games. My compromise is to limit the amount of time and not to give any more. Since it has already become a habit for your daughter, the tantrums will be huge, but explain calmly that this is a new rule, and do not give in. It takes about a week in our house for the kid to accept new rules. Whatever the limit is, stick to it irrespective of what is happening.

When my kids were young, the rule was 1 episode of ABC-show. As they got older and started selecting their own shows/ games, I'd set a timer for an hour and stop promptly after that hour. If something happens that they did not get to use their hour on a certain day, they can combine it for the next day. Figure out what works for your family. Tell your daughter that its OK to be bored. Do something with her.

There have been times when these are not followed, but those are the exceptions rather than the norm and its clear to my kids. My older one is 8 now, and he understands that the screen time limit is so that he gets to do other things. For my younger one, its just a "house rule". When they get bored, they roll on the floor or jump on the furniture or kick a ball around - kids are meant to be noisy :-)

This also means that the adults also should limit their screen time usage - TV and all devices.

  • To add to this you need to take other stuff to do during quiet times meals out etc. books, colouring, even games. We have a bag of magnetic stuff you can build with. This is only ever played when out for meals so is always special. The adults play with it as well. – WendyG Jul 31 '18 at 9:32
  • And explain to her that the reason this rule is put in place is because you have noticed that when she watches cartoons it makes her grumpy and irritated afterwards. It isn't fun to be grumpy and irritated, so as long as this condition continues, so will the restrictions, until she is old enough to watch cartoons without becoming grumpy. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Jul 31 '18 at 18:54
  • Why should it be OK to be bored? I'm from a fairly spoiled upbringing, but man if I ever said I was bored, I would get enough work to last me the week. There is always something you can work on whether it's school work, house work, chores, reading or thinking. – DRF Aug 7 '18 at 10:44
  • @DRF, there is nothing to fear about boredom, for kids or adults...it fuels creativity - " whether it's school work, house work, chores, reading or thinking". See opinions - bbc.com/news/education-21895704 – user61034 Aug 7 '18 at 15:48
  • @user61034 Oh come on surely BBC is not a reputable source. I mean a blog would almost be better. There must at least be a research paper some place if she actually knows what she's talking about. That's an aside though. The point I was trying to make is that a child's saying "I'm bored" is essentially equivalent to "I'm too lazy to think of something to do." So give them something to do. Next time they will think twice about being bored and will rather go and be creative. – DRF Aug 7 '18 at 19:30

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