Your struggle with your toddler for screen time is very strong. Where putting your baby in front of the screen gives you a guilt-ridden feeling, but you also need that break.
This confusion is so strong that you feel like you are in a rut!
You put screen time for your 1.5 yr old who has been howling for TV, but when you do it instead of feeling calm, you actually feel more guilty and bad.
Because you are very much aware that if he spent that time reading books, it’ll be much more beneficial for him in the long run, but he just doesn’t sit down to read books.
Plus, your child gets so overstimulated with the screen time that he cries uncontrollably for 15 minutes (which seem like 30 mins) after you switch off the TV, in-spite of you waiting for the show to get over.
It’s a crazy cycle, where you hate to put on the TV because you know for sure — it’s not good at that age. But you don’t know what else to do, and you convince yourself that a little screen time is good for him.
Especially since he’s learning so many new words from the rhymes, which you are so grateful for, after all the speech delay signs he showed.
But then again, deep down you know this is not good for him, yet!
Before having the baby you had decided to not show any TV to him until he was 2. But it was so difficult, without that screen time.
You had no downtime at all.
No time to make and eat lunch, forget about a bath! Your 1 yr old toddler, asks for your attention constantly, when you were so overtired and sleepless.
He follows you to the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, everywhere!
Not that you were not used-to to it, but you would most certainly appreciate that forgotten privacy sometimes.
How it all begun
One time — You gave him the phone with a youtube video on it!
You were having a dinner outing at a restaurant with your baby and hubby. But he was all over the place; it was really getting a handful to keep him contained in that tiny spot.
And, all you wanted was a little peaceful time with your husband.
Screen time on your phone was the only solution you could think of, in that stressful time, so you did it. Plus, you had seen it work so well with all the other kids.
And, Boy! Was that a nice peaceful dinner after that.
It was a quiet time that you had not had in a very long time. It felt good!
You joked with your hubby, about doing this every time you went out for a dinner.
But before you realized, that joke had become a reality for you!
You had a plumber visit your house another day, co-incidently your toddler was very upset and clingy, while you had to attend the plumber.
So, you put on the TV again, and it was another peaceful 30 mins that you needed to focus on something more important.
Related Reading: Why Do Kids Whine and What to Do about it.
Your Baby is demanding screen time now!
But now, your sweet little baby has started to make a connection!
He knows that this thing (your phone) has something that is mesmerizing and feels very good.
It has something that he does not see anywhere else and wishes everything around him was as mesmerizing as this thing.
This thing talked in a fun sing-y way, it is so colorful, and things like it jump around. It’s that place he wishes to be, and not in this boring world.
He wants to see more and more of this dreamland, it’s practically where he wants to live now.
So he tries very hard to go to this dreamland by pushing buttons and the screen on your phone. But, It doesn’t work no matter how hard he tries.
However, it worked when mom did something, so he gets very upset about it. And expresses his frustration to you, that he can not get into that amazing world.
You realize that he likes those rhymes so much, and your heart melts for him. So you put on that screen time for him one more time.
After all, it’s educational video! (And, they truly seem to be so.)
However, it still doesn’t feel correct, you tell your gut it’s good educational stuff for him, and he’ll turn out okay.
But your gut tells you — “It’s not true! Screen time is bad for your child”.
And the guilt pang kicks in again, but the screen is ON now, and you know it’ll be an even worse meltdown if you switched it off at this point. So, you promise yourself, it’s just for this one time. I’ll not put it again!
But as you know, it wasn’t the last time. Soon enough; you needed to fix dinner, call customer care for something, or he was sick and inconsolable.
You see it’s a never-ending vicious cycle.
I understand that it is difficult, but I also realize — You need a solution for this.
Find Your Comfort Zone.
Here is the real deal with it — You have to find what are your “real thoughts” about screen time are; without forcing your mind to believe one side or the other.
There is no right or wrong answer or one fixed answer to this. Obviously, too much TV is bad for your child and you understand that but how much screen time is okay with you if all it is.
If you truly believe that there is some good in screen time, whether it’s their quiet time, or it’s your quiet time (Yes, that’s a valid outcome of screen time, and you’re worth it!).
Let him have a limited amount, find that right amount of time that you’re comfortable with, stick with that time, and don’t be scared to switch off the screen after that!
Or if you are comfortable with only occasional screen time, like a sick baby or you not feeling up to it, or them clearly asking for it, that’s okay too.
I’m not going to tell you how much time is okay according to me because I’ll bias your opinion.
I am very strict about screen time, so I don’t want to sound harsh.
Trust your gut!
Plus, I trust you to come-up with the amount of screen time you are comfortable with.
However, if you feel like TV is really not good for them or you would not want them to watch TV then you have to help them become more independent at play and be persistent with no screen time.
Persistence is the key here, it takes time and extra effort but I believe that your child is going to come around and find something else that they like too, other than videos.
Related Reading: 10 Ways to Calm and Upset Child.
Basically what I’m coming up to is, you need to be feeling comfortable with your thoughts about baby screen time because it’s your thought that your child is getting affected by more screen time.
When you feel calm about whatever limit you set for that screen time, they feel calm and happy about it.
You need to drop your anxiousness around screen time because there is already enough going around with parenting and kids development in our lives.
It’s not worth it to create another issue which does not have to be there.
And, that’s our ultimate goal!