Kids under 18 months old shouldn’t be watching TV or having any kind of screen time besides video chatting relatives.
We all know that. Even the WHO state this, except that they say kids shouldn’t have screen time until at least 2 years old. Their brains are doing way too much developing for them to get put in front of a screen that literally achieves nothing and waists stimulating development. There are so many other ways to keep a child entertained on their own for periods of time so you can just do what you gotta do.
Don’t worry, I get that you are tired today. Possibly feeling depressed, sick, or just busy, and that’s okay. But if your child is under 2 and screen time becomes a habit, a once a day, or even multiple times a day, that kind of thing – you gotta re-evaluate.
For one, that equates to zero brain stimulation for your children which is vitally important for children under the age of three. Two, screen time just becomes their baby sitter. They slowly stop caring about using their imaginations and playing and exploring, and in turn will start asking for and expecting screen time everyday.
There are certain circumstances like health conditions(both child and adult) and pure exhaustion levels, etc., but I’m not talking about those. If my son is sick, that doesn’t slow him down. So in that case, since he was a year old, we’ve curled up with him on the couch when he’s sick and let him watch whatever he wants so his body gets some rest.
What I am talking about, are the parents who get used to the convenience of screen time. The fact that it reduces their need to respond to their child every 30 seconds. Actually, over time your child will go back to ‘bugging you’ and still beg for screen time. It’s really just a temporary solution that only turns into a bad habit, slows down development, and interferes with a kid’s relationship to life.
The main thing is, you need to look after you. It’s very hard to be a good parent if you aren’t a good YOU. It’s easy to stop caring about these ‘little things’ that actually build up over time. When you are struggling on the inside, it’s easy to just let your child do whatever they want, or eat whatever they want, to keep the peace and the effort minimal. Unfortunately, that is something you need to accept inside of yourself and come to terms with before you can truly work on that.
In the mean time, try to meet in the middle. If you’re going to put the TV on, use that time to look after yourself – not go do the dishes.
Make a tea, snuggle on the couch with your little on your lap, maybe close your eyes… whatever. It’s okay to put the screen on because you’re in dire need of self-care. If you need to do this everyday though, then you also need to reach out. Someone needs to give you a hand and alleviate some stress off your shoulders.
12 -18 Month Examples:
- Put down some old towels and fill one bowl with Rice Crispies – because they’re more likely to try to put things in their mouth at this age – another with some milk, then an additional empty one. Give them some transferring supplies like measuring cups and spoons, and watch them explore.
- Paper. That’s it. Crumple one piece up. Fold another piece in half. Leave a piece as is. Let them watch you slowly rip a piece of paper. Then let them take over and explore. Some kids still prefer black and white at this age simply because its easier on the eyes and less overwhelming to focus on. In this case you could invest in a pack of multicolored construction paper.
- A small, cheap, mirror and snack. Dollar stores usually have a variety of mirrors to choose from of the plastic, less fracture-able type. Prop it up on the table or highchair so your kiddo can watch him self eat. More interesting to him than it is to you.
- Give them some items from around the house. If they’re still gnawing on whatever they can find – give them a spatula ! That rubber feels so good to sink their soon-to-be-teeth into!
- Save an old jar or peanut butter container. Take some raw rice, mix some food coloring with it and make different colors. Then put in a container with some other various larger items for your kiddo to check out. Like I Spy in a container.
18 – 24 Month Examples:
- Back the the bowls and cups again. This time set up a water station. Young kids love experimenting with with the elements. Give them a cooking pot with some water and some containers or cups and a Turkey baster. That will buy you at least 30 minutes. WHO CARES if they makes a mess? Move valuables out of the way and clean things up with a towel. Unless or course they just intentionally dump the water on the floor as some may want to do… in that case move on to something else.
- An empty bowl, a bowl of flour and a bowl of warm water = some pretty fun sensory play. Again, give them some additional utensils like a measuring cups and spoons and a whisk.
- Just open the drawers. Move your Tupperware to a lower drawer they can reach and open it . Open the baking drawer – remove unsafe objects and just let them explore and do their thing. You can get them to help you put it all back when they’re done.
- Coloring – so many different options these days. Now you can even get mess free markers that only show up on the book that comes with them so you don’t have to worry about a mess when you turn your head for 2 seconds