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Old 01-28-2013, 08:16 AM   #1
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My son is becoming a couch potato!

I need advice. My 4 year old is obsessed with tv and the iPad. He probably gets 2-3 hours a day which I feel like is too much but I'm also at home with him and the one year old all week while my husband travels for work. I feel like he never plays with toys he just sits around waiting for screen time. For example during my daughters nap he has quiet time. I set the alarm for an hour and then he plays the iPad until he wakes up. But I often see him just sitting waiting for the alarm to go off. I would like to take a total screen time break but I think I might go crazy. We do a ton of outings home schools stuff and projects but unless I'm doing something with him he seems unable to entertain himself. Help!

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Old 01-28-2013, 08:19 AM   #2
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Re: My son is becoming a couch potato!

I'd cut it out completely. Watching TV a couple hours and playing an iPad doesn't bother me, but lack of self entertainment the rest of the time at 4 is worrisome. Does he have a play area and age relative toys? Imagination play stuff?
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:32 AM   #3
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He has a zillion toys - possibly too many? He plays great with other kids and his sister and me just not by himself.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:38 AM   #4
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Re: My son is becoming a couch potato!

My 4 yr old is the same way and will refuse, cry, freak out if we do not allow him to play. He is also on the Autism spectrum. We are a house of gamers so it does not bother us as much. We let him play, take a break, and let him play again.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:39 AM   #5
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Thanks. I will admit that I am a constant worrier. I just don't want to mess him up.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:43 AM   #6
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Re: My son is becoming a couch potato!

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He has a zillion toys - possibly too many? He plays great with other kids and his sister and me just not by himself.
Maybe. Cut it back to a few of his favorites? I wouldn't be ok if my kids refused to play by themselves, to me it's important developmentally.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:43 AM   #7
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Re: My son is becoming a couch potato!

We're in the same boat with my 4yo. Since the baby arrived, it's been the easiest way to keep him quiet. He can play on his own just fine, but our house is tiny and he's LOUD. We went through this with my oldest around the same age (he's almost 7 now) and the only way to break him of it was to cut all screen time completely (yes, it sucked--that is the only time I get some uninterrupted peace and quiet). We live in Cali, so it's still fine to send them out to play instead--if we lived somewhere much colder, I'm sure it would be harder. If mine complain about being bored or that their toys are boring, I offer to give them chores if they can't find something to do. A four year old is capable of wiping baseboards, doing dishes, sweeping floors, etc.

As for the too many toys, once we culled them, the boys started playing with them much more. I think too many choices is often overwhelming. We rotate most of ours every few months and they love that.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:09 AM   #8
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Re: My son is becoming a couch potato!

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Originally Posted by Mom2Finn View Post
Thanks. I will admit that I am a constant worrier. I just don't want to mess him up.
Some kids rather game. The iPad has some great apps for preschoolers that are fun and educational. You may want to find him some.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:41 AM   #9
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Re: My son is becoming a couch potato!

I'd take the iPad away, explain why, and then do a clean out of his room so he's down to a managable number of toys that he'll actually play with. See how it goes for 2ish weeks and then you can start adding the iPad back, but maybe cut it down to just a few times a week for an hour, rather than 2-3 hours per day.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:45 AM   #10
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Re: My son is becoming a couch potato!

When I first started homeschooling my girls were at a loss of what to do and asked for movie watching all the time or playing on the iPods. After a couple of weeks I put a stop to it and instituted movie day. Once a week we have movie day where they get to watch a (ONE) movie. They alternative to pick. It's on the calendar. So when they ask if they can watch a movie I ask them if it's movie day or not. So I am not the bad guy. The calendar is.
I did the same for candy, too. We have candy days (two days a week).

However, with a newborn I would probably not worry so much. I have a 3 month-old and the first few weeks I really neglected the older children and they got to watch more movies and stuff. And it's also winter and cold and that's hard. But it was just a phase.

For a four-year-old you might have to cut it out altogether for a little while. And he will learn to entertain himself. It may take a few days, but I think it's important to make that adjustment. Maybe not today, because you have a new baby, but in a couple of weeks maybe.

Either way, good luck. It's hard with technology everywhere. My husband is a big computer person, too, so that doesn't help sometimes. :-)
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