Ask the Expert: My Kids are Watching Way Too Much TV? What Do I Do?

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This article is the first in a new series where we ask the parenting experts at Greenville First Steps to weigh in our most pressing parenting issues. Do you have a question that you would love to get an expert opinion on? Email [email protected]

Thank you to Greenville First Steps for sponsoring this article.

My kids are watching too much TV….and absolutely out of control. What can I do?

Dear Greenville First Steps,

Due to Covid, we are home so much more now, and life is pretty crazy and stressful. I feel like my kids are just watching too much TV, playing too much Fortnite, and absolutely out of control. What can I do?

Please help!

One Desperate Mom Who Just Needs a Break


Answer: It is hard to believe that it was just 12 months ago that Covid-19 impacted everyday life in Greenville. It seems like we have all lived a lifetime (or two) since Spring of 2020.  So much of our day to day lives were thrown into a whirlwind. Families were left without childcare, schools were closed, employers closed their doors. So much chaos – and it all seemed to strike overnight.

Whatever stress you have been experiencing, whatever uncertainty you have faced, imagine the disruption and chaos your children have faced. For our youngest family members, they may be facing these challenges without any way to name these uncertainties. Your children are looking to you to restore routines and normalcy in this chaotic time.

Nicole Sheppard, Greenville First Steps director of Parenting programs explains: “brain research indicates that birth to age three are the most important years in a child’s development. Taking away a normal routine brings on a level of uncertainty and unpredictability, which can lead to increased levels of anxiety in the current world we’re living. Having a set schedule, family expectations and boundaries provides a safe and comfortable space for children. Routines are a powerful way to reinforce a feeling of well-being and stability.”

Regain Normalcy By Establishing Routines

For most parents, the first steps in regaining normalcy is re-establishment of those everyday routines.

Try these three steps:

1.       Develop a family plan: Need help re-establishing normal routines? Start with a weekly schedule. Sit down at the beginning of each week and map out a plan.

  • What time will we eat? When will eat together? Who is cooking?
  • When can we watch TV as a family?
  • When is homework time?
  • When is family reading time?
  • When are our sports practices or dance classes?

2.       Build in free choice time for everyone: Building routines is important, so is taking a breather. Build in time for your children- and yourself- to just take a breather.

3.       Embrace the change: Nothing about 2020 went as planned. Do you expect 2021 to be 100% structured? Go ahead and take a deep breath and know that routines sometimes don’t work out. Embrace the changes that are to come.

And then . . .  relax.

If your kids find time, within your family schedule, to sneak off for some screen time, then so be it.

We all pray 2021 will be less chaotic than 2020. But we can’t control what is to come.

We can control our weekly family schedule, and that may be enough for today.

Want More Information About Establishing Routines?

Here are some great resources for establishing routines and family time:

Would you benefit from more parenting help? Be sure to check out Greenville Parents for a list of free parenting classes that you can sign up for today!

About the Author
Derek Lewis serves as a member of the Greenville County School board. Derek is also the Executive Director of Greenville First Steps, a non profit that funds programs to help parents and caregivers prepare children for Kindergarten. Derek's is in his 6th year on the board, and represents Greenville School District area 24- which includes Augusta Road, Gower and Maudlin areas of Greenville County. Derek's wife Hedrick teaches 5K at Berea Elementary school and his son, William, is in 4th grade at Augusta Circle elementary. Derek also serves as the chair of the School Board Advocacy committee- which helps to inform and shape public policy around education issues at the state and federal level.

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