How To Make Your Child Stop Watching TV? If You Have This Problem You Are In The Right Place.

Does it seem that the kids have forgotten what the garden looks like or the park across the street? Is their conversation dotted with TV show lingo and do they base their next week’s schedule around what’s on TV? And the big question – are your kids glued to the TV all the time? If so, time to take control and give them a new lease on life that does not revolve around the box.

Here are a few steps that you can do to make it more educational or even to minimize you child TV time:

(1) Have your kids watch TV programs, not just TV.

This means planning ahead with your child what she wants to watch and turning off the TV when the program is over. “The idea is that you’re making a conscious decision to watch something instead of simply flipping around the channels to find something on. Television should be an engaging activity, not simply mind-numbing time to ‘chill out,'” says Nell Minow, author of The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and the mother of two teenagers.

(2) Tell the kids that the TV free-for-all is at an end.

Explain to them that the level of TV viewing has reached a point of no return and that other activities in life are being neglected. Then tell them that the TV time is going to be regulated from now on. There will be no whining, there will be no arguing, and there will be no typical clever rationalizations that kids are famous for. Stick to your decision – TV time is being axed!

(3) Change up their Routine.

Do not say a word but leave a surprise for them like Zina from Let’s Lasso the Moon has done by putting art supplies on the kitchen table when they wake up in the morning.

(4) Make it inconvenient to watch television.

Too much of the time, television becomes a backdrop to family life – it blares away in the den or family room while the kids are playing, mom’s cooking, or the family is eating. “We purposely didn’t put a TV on the first floor of our house so that watching television would require a deliberate decision on everyone’s part to either head to the basement or to the master bedroom,” says Katie Sellers, a New Jersey mother of two kids.

Keeping the TV in a closed armoire also helps tame habitual watching. Hiding the clicker isn’t a bad idea either because it tends to discourage channel surfing. Educators agree that no child should have a television in his bedroom.

(5) Develop a TV reduction plan.

In consultation with your kids, sit down together and plot TV viewing time. Get a copy of the weekly TV schedule from your regular paper or magazine. Ask the kids which show they like the most. Then tell them that those are going to be the only programs they can watch. Also consider allowing a time limit of 1 – 2 hours per day (or less, especially on school nights etc.) of viewing and no more. If there are more programs than hours allotted, the kids will be forced to choose.

(6) Challenge Them

We have been known to resort to challenges at our house. Friendly competition, really. It always works to say something like, “Let’s see who can … ” and give them a challenge such as who can find the most circles, or who can draw the biggest castle. We’ve also done the Family Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt, which incorporated my girls’ gadgets with photography and exercise.

(7) Prohibit TV and videos during playdates.

Kids need time to play and interact with their peers – television only acts as an impediment. Make a firm rule in your house, and let other parents know that you would like them to respect your ‘no TV on playdates’ rule when your child is visiting their home, too.

(8) Go cold turkey for the whole family.

All for one and one for all. One drastic measure is to get rid of the TVs. Yes, it is drastic but if you have a family that is highly addicted to TV, it may be the only way to kickstart this plan. Give the TV to a family member or friend to keep for a week to a month whilst the whole family goes cold turkey and relearns what they used to do before the TV was invented. One word of warning – do not turn to the internet, video games and other sources of electronic entertainment in place. Instead, bring out those old board games, playing cards and jigsaws to do together as a family.

(9) Record shows ahead of time if possible.

Children’s TV shows are filled with ads for junk food that make kids crave snacks. (Some experts say this is one reason TV watching is linked to childhood obesity.)

Recording shows to watch later not only saves you viewing time, but also lets you zip through commercials for junk food, violent movies, and toys. You can also pause a show to talk about what you’re watching. If you don’t record shows, hit the mute button during the commercials.

(10) Be a role model.

Certainly, peer pressure has an influence on our kids’ TV watching habits. But ultimately, as with everything else – violence, eating habits, racial attitudes – children are most affected by the example we parents set.

If they see you mindlessly flipping channels, if you ‘shh’ them while you watch your favorite sitcom, that’s the attitude they’ll eventually adopt. On the other hand, if your kids see you eagerly sitting down every so often to watch something and concentrating on what you’re seeing, they’ll recognize the potential for enjoyment TV actually promises.


You have some other suggestions that you like to share?   If so, please leave your comments or questions below and I will be more than happy to get back to you. I would love to hear your feedback.


  • Thank you for the great advice. I battle so many times with my nephews about the amount of time they spend in front of the TV and they always have clever arguments and excuses on why they should have more TV time. It is even worse now that Youtube can be accessed on TV:{ Being firm and having clear rules will be met with protest, and so will everything else you do for your children well-being until they are old enough to see the benefit in it, but it must be done. I also love that you encourage children’s participation in reducing TV time. It helps them be more respectful of the decision made in the end. I will make sure to try that.

  • Joy

    Our daughter is still pretty young and we have avoided screen time really well so far. However, since we moved closer to family she seems to crave the screen more as they always watch things with her. I have been trying to avoid it still but it has been harder since the start of winter and because i have been working so hard online lately. These are some decent tips thank you for putting this information out there

  • I don’t have much experience with kids, but I do know that they learn by example. Also, they will always push boundaries to test how far you will let them go, making a disciplined schedule essential for them to have a sense of security.

  • Love the great ideas here, especially having a craft ready to go when they first wake up in the morning. Channel surfing has never been an issue, but in the age of Netflix, binging can definitely be a problem. 1 hour is typically 3 episodes which is the limit daily for my daughter. A movie is added for weekend days in the winter. This has been easy to impose since the limits can be set right on the tablet she uses.

  • I have a problem with my kids watching too much tv and spending too much time on their electronic devices. What I realized from your article is that it starts with my wife and I. We have to do a better job setting the right example. We seem to find it just as hard to turn the tv off and set down our devices. Hmm… Kind of explains where they learned it from. I’m going to apply your tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • Hello, I enjoyed reading this article you wrote about how to make your child stop watching tv. This is a struggle for my family many times because there isn’t too much to do in my city but I am very happy to get an idea of how I can structure my child’s tv time and mine as well. Thanks for this article.

  • Hi,
    Great ideas here, I have the same problem with the eldest girl. I agree its sort of “family culture” thing. The kids model after the parents. Hmm now maybe its more crucial I get my hub off the TV first haha

  • Awesome tips! My little sister is having a difficult time with this and has been gaining a lot of weight because of it. She just watches things from youtube of other people playing video games. If she were the one playing them it wouldn’t be as weird, but she watches other people do it. I am thinking about proposing the cold turkey maneuver. It costs more on electricity anyway. Hopefully she doesn’t get glued to the computer or tablet. Thank you!

  • In today’s society, I am afraid this has become a major problem. We have lost this generation of kids to televisions and computers.

    Than You so much for sharing some right smart ideas to break them of this bad habit and learning some live skills by actually going outside and interacting with other kids!

  • I love the idea of going cold turkey, I think this is a great idea because it creates a feeling of connection and ‘we’re all in this together’, it’s better than doing it as a punishment.
    When I was a child my whole family was pretty much addicted to coca-cola, so my parents suggested we all quit drinking it for 30 days and whoever quits first will have to do the dishes for a whole week (or month – I don’t remember). We are all very competitive so it worked wonderfully and we reduced the amount so much that today I don’t drink coca-cola at all 🙂
    (And my father was the one who caved in first (maybe he did it on purpose)).

  • Ann

    Thanks for compiling this site…I have seven children and our family did without tv for 10 years…there was just too much going on with babies, and homeschooling etc.. Then we let it creep back into our lives….Life was simpler and quieter without it…and we still didn’t miss anything important…I also am subscribing because I know I need all this info for when the grand babies start showing up…thanks again for such a useful site….

  • FGS

    This is great advice altogether! I have raised 5 children and the TV was the biggest battle I had and as far as I’m concerned was the ‘root of all evil’ in our home. If I were to turn the clock back I would not get the kids a smart phone in HS, they could manage with a flip phone and I would buy an extra laptop and let them use it for schoolwork but the computer would belong to the parents and therefore could easily be monitored. I did get something called CleanRouter which I love. I can turn off wi-fi by device at certain times of the day or night and it blocks bad things.
    Thanks. FGS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *