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.
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.