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Is TV taking over?

According to research, children watch about four hours of TV each weekday and up to ten hours on a Saturday and Sunday. And experts at the Children's Hospital in Seattle have also conducted research on how TV affects children's behaviour - and they recommend no more than two hours per day.

Personally, I'm an advocate of quality television programming: programmes which are educational as well as entertaining and which encourage imaginative play can be an extremely positive influence on children. But, that said, I do think that you can have too much of a good thing. From a health perspective, sitting around and watching TV isn't the greatest pastime. Much has been written of late about childhood obesity and sedentary activities like watching TV are often blamed.

So, if you're concerned that your child is watching too much TV, how can you redress the balance?

Taking back control

Explain why you want to reduce the amount of TV they watch. It's important that children don't see this as a punishment. Watching TV can be fun, but there are lots of other things that they can do which are just as much (if not more) fun. So talk to your children about their TV habits: which programmes do they really like? Look at the TV listings together and decide which programmes you're going to watch.

If possible, watch TV along with your child. You can then talk to them about various aspects of the programmes and get some ideas for new games to play once the TV's turned off.

Dealing with the fallout...

If you are looking to reduce the amount of time your child spends watching TV, you may find that in the early stages, your child will pester you to allow them to watch more. Communication is key here. Reiterate the rules: how much time they can spend watching TV; and be ready with distractions once the TV is turned off. Suggest you go to the park, read a story, do some painting, build a den, kick a ball, etc, etc.

Once your child understands that there are plenty of fun things to do outside of watching TV, they'll adapt to the change in routine and pester you less! 

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