How we kicked our child’s TV while eating habit

tv while eating

The TV while eating habit problem is a common one. During one of our parenting workshops, a parent asked us what to do with her child who cannot eat without a TV or a gadget in front of him. We get asked this by yayas too in our Teacher Yaya workshops.

My honest answer, I remember vividly, was, “Let me know if you find an answer.” At that time, despite being the TV Nazi at home, I let this little TV while eating habit of my daughter slide, as it meant a little peace and quiet for dinner.

One evening, though, it dawned on me that my daughter is growing up. And I knew in my heart that I did not want her to get used to having meals in front of a screen.

Mealtimes should be for catching up, sharing, and enjoying the family’s company. Happily, we have been doing just that for several months now. We have kicked the habit, with our daughter sometimes even reminding her dad to turn off the TV while we are eating.

Nothing successful happens overnight, and I am sharing with you these three things that we did – and are doing – to help our daughter enjoy screen-free meals.

1. Prepare your child

Turning off the TV cold-turkey will most definitely mean failure, struggles, and crying.

So, weeks before, we prepared our daughter by talking about sharing meals without the television. We told her what to expect and what we expected of her. Constant reminders before D-Day also helped her anticipate what will happen.

2. Be consistent

Following through with your plan will show your child that you mean business. Being consistent will also help your child get used to the change in her routine.

Undoing something that your child has gotten used to may take time and being firm will help your child make this a habit. Communicating your plan to everyone in the family (lolo, lola, yaya, etc)  is also key.

3. Model

Do not expect your child to give up something when you cannot do the same. Put down your gadget and be present.

Your child will see that mealtimes can be wonderful times for creating magical moments with the family when she has your undivided attention. Asking about the happiest, saddest, and funniest parts of her day have sparked many memorable conversations in our family.


Surprisingly, mealtimes have been more peaceful at home after we switched off the screens. I must admit that I did not think it would be this simple to kick the TV while eating habit.

Are you struggling with this too?



Who’s the boss?

routine Mornings used to get away from me.

You see, I’ve dedicated my mornings to intentional learning time with my children. We read books, do activities together and basically do our homeschooling stuff until lunchtime.

And though that’s all I want to do with them, our precious time together also includes eating breakfast and hygiene and self-care activities.

How can we do everything in such a short time? I’ve seesawed between letting my kids take a bath after lunch and insisting that they get to the bathroom right after breakfast and before we do anything else.

It really depended on how disciplined I was in following through with my agenda for them to take a bath and brush their teeth, my biggest “issues”. If I was too frazzled with work or their whining, I would just let them run around and just have them take their bath whenever.

If, like me, you find yourself battling it out with your kids over the same things everyday, then one of the peaceful parenting solutions that you can do is to establish and follow a routine.


The Boss

We always talk about the importance of routine in all of our parenting workshops, including the Teacher Yaya workshop.

From infancy onwards, routine plays an important role in giving stability to children’s day-to-day life. A routine also helps children have rhythm and predictability in their day, which help avoid tantrums and confrontations.

Babies are comforted by the rhythm of their days. Mommy kisses me when I wake up. Then, she feeds me. Then, she brings me out for some sun. Then, she gives me a bath.

Toddlers and preschoolers, on the other hand, are already strong enough to do as they please and are testing the power of “no” – sometimes, even with a pout and crossed arms!

In my pursuit of positive parenting and positive discipline, though, I learned that I am not The Boss, and neither are my children. When we established and diligently followed a routine, our routine became The Boss.


Establishing and following a routine

Routines were easy when my babies were babies because I followed my own schedule. Now that the little ones have their own agenda, everyday things such as taking a bath, brushing teeth and going to sleep all become points of contention.

The best first step in establishing a routine is to discuss the most sensible and doable routine with your young child in a calm manner.

After you have decided together, you can make your own routine chart with just paper and pen. For the child who doesn’t read yet, you can download some visual reminders, such as soap, toothbrush, and comb for the morning routine. (You can use the free images in our free “Ay Naku!” unit study in our Downloads page.)

A routine chart, however, is not for rewarding our kids, but is just a guide for the day.

Once you’ve set it up, point out to the chart and reference it throughout the day. When your child resists, take him to the chart and talk about what the chart “says”.

Most importantly, be disciplined to follow through with the routine that you’ve set and avoid giving in to your child. After all, if we want to discipline and teach our children, we have to be disciplined ourselves.

What’s your routine like? Do share!

Make magic!

Mariel Uyquiengco


Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at

The Day I Apologized to My Daughter

positive discipline

About a week ago, right before bedtime, my five-year-old girl threw a major tantrum – screams, kicking, crying. The works!

I cannot remember now what caused it, but I remember the emotions very well. I was tired, frustrated, and angry. I racked my brains for solutions that I may have read in the many parenting books and sites that I have read.

After a few minutes, I found myself calming down enough to ask my daughter very gently, “What are you doing?” I learned this technique after watching Mariel ask the same question to her daughter.

It helps the children stop and check their behavior themselves versus the adult simply dictating the little ones to stop whatever it is they are doing.

Surprisingly, it worked for the Energizer Bunny, as she paused, tried to calm herself down, and quietly asked for what she wanted politely.

In the heat of the moment, though, I said no. “Because you already threw a tantrum, ” I said, “and you don’t get what you want after a tantrum.” She fell asleep, disappointed and hurt, in my arms. And boy, did I feel horrible!

After the incident, I realized what I did was  wrong. As soon as I got home from work the next day, I called my daughter for a talk. I said, “I need to say sorry to you. Last night, after you realized that you were throwing a tantrum, you stopped yourself and asked politely. That must have been very hard to do and you did it. I did not see it that way. Will you forgive me?” She was already crying halfway through my speech and then she hugged me and said yes. And it was all that we both needed.

I can’t say that bedtime tantrums have stopped. But it is reassuring to know that I can learn how to deal with it without ruining my relationship with my daughter, at the same time empowering her to help control herself too.

Do you believe in encouragement and empowerment in disciplining your children too? Then come learn with us in our newest parenting workshop  Positive Discipline for Preschoolers and Toddlers. Do share about the event too!