How to Stop a TV Addiction (for Kids)

Television for kids can quickly go from a fun way to spend time to an addiction. Finding other activities to do instead of watching TV helps engage your child with other things and practice useful skills, like reading, exercising, being creative, or playing a sport. Limiting television time and encouraging healthy TV habits when you do watch are also ways to help stop your child’s addiction to television.

Encourage your child to read a book instead of watching cartoons. Instead of immediately turning on the TV after school, sit down with your child to read a book. Reading will promote your child’s imagination and help learn new vocabulary words.

  • Find books on things your child is interested in, like dinosaurs, dogs, or airplanes.
  • If your child does not want to read, reward them with one episode of a cartoon for reading for a half hour

Write a story with your child instead of pressing the “on” button. Your child can create characters similar to the ones on TV and create adventures to go on. Encouraging imagination through writing short stories will stimulate your child’s mind. Give your child ideas to get started with, a sentence prompt, or a theme.

  • For example, you can use the writing prompt “Write a story about your favorite superhero,” or “Write about vacation.”
  • If your child refuses, suggest to read a book instead.

Stock up on art supplies and encourage your child to get creative. Buy crayons, markers, colored pencils, or paint and set up art time for your child. Use a variety of art supplies to foster creative inspiration for your child. This can result in hours of entertainment away from the screen.

  • Have your child pick out the art supplies with you to get their imagination going.
  • If your child refuses, try other art supplies until something clicks and seems fun.

Take your child on a day trip instead of the movies. Take a trip to a museum, amusement park, or playground. Go somewhere your child will enjoy and learn something from.

  • Show your child some options of places to go and have them pick out the place that interests them most.
  • If they refuse, take your child to run errands with you, like to the mall, grocery store, or gas station. Getting out of the house and doing something else will help cut back on TV time.

Go on a walk with your child instead of zoning out in front of the TV. Take your pet or a bicycle and go to a favorite park with your child. Try to get at least a half hour of exercise a day.

  • Have a reward destination in mind, like an ice cream shop or arcade. This will help motivate the child to do the activity and reward them for choosing something other than watching TV.

Play board games with your family in substitution of the television. Find an age-appropriate and engaging game to play with just your child or as a whole family. This will vary by your child’s age group, but some classic examples include Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Yahtzee, Go Fish, War, and Life.

  • Let your child pick out the game to make sure they enjoy it.
  • If you child refuses, make it necessary to play one game before they can watch an hour of TV

Sign your child up for a club or sports team. Separating your child from the TV by spending time with other children will help them forget about the TV over time. Sign up for girl or cub scouts, a local soccer team, or gymnastic lessons.

  • Have your child pick the activity that seems the most fun.
  • Take them to meetings once a week even if they don’t seem interested.

Teach your child how to play an instrument or arrange lessons. Learn and practice an instrument. Music is a great way to engage your child, and they can choose from variety of different instruments. You can teach them at home or get them private lessons. Good instruments to start with include guitar, violin, and piano.

  • Give your child a few suggestions of instruments to play, and let them pick.
  • If they refuse, try another hobby they may like better, like karate or tap dancing.

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