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Junior Zap "Plays" Mom and Dad Against Each Other

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Junior Zap is watching television. When the show ends, Mom turns the set off and suggests that Junior make a picture from something that he just saw on the show. Junior Zap waits until Mom leaves and then purposely goes and asks Dad if he can watch tv. Dad says yes.

Mom walks by to find Junior Zap in front of the set. And he is watching an inappropriate show. Mom asks him about it, and he says that Dad said he could. Mom goes to talk to Dad. She explains the situation and together they go to see Junior and explain why they are not pleased. They turn the television off and get him involved in colouring.

It's important that parents be prepared. Discuss and agree about how to handle situations that will likely come up. Set rules and limits for your child, and make the child aware of them - and the consequences for not meeting your expectations. Keep the rules simple and reasonable. When your child makes a request, ask if she already checked with your partner.

Television can take your child away from other good things. Once a child begins to watch television, she'll happily sit there for hours, which means she doesn't get involved in other activities, like reading, playing and getting exercise. As a parent, you need to regulate this, regardless of what's on - when enough is enough, just turn the tv off.

There are many shows on television, including children's shows, that you may think are inappropriate for your young child. You need to know what he is watching. Try to watch together, and ask him questions about what he's seeing, to find out how much he is understanding.

Children will knowingly 'play' one parent against the other, to get what they want. Parents (and caregivers) need to work together to stop this behaviour. They need to be coordinated and consistent. And they shouldn't get mad at each other when the child succeeds in getting his way by going to one instead of the other.

Food for Thought:

  • Have you and your partner talked about how to handle situations, and set rules and limits for your child? What sort of rules have you made?
  • How much television should a young child watch? Do you check the type of show your child watches? Do you watch with him sometimes? Whether you do or not, do you talk about what he watches?
  • How do you make sure that your child does lots of things besides watch tv?

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