Monkey didn’t watch television, dvds, play with electronic games, etc. before his second birthday. Duhdee and I had elected to follow the APA’s recommendations on the matter and, besides that, after we began receiving EI services there really wasn’t any TIME for such things in Monkey’s day.
After his second birthday we gradually loosened up, he began watching The Backyardigans and then I started letting him watch Red Sox games with me (come on, how could THAT hurt him right? They’ll only break your heart, ha!) Gradually, the things he was allowed to watch expanded to include several PBS, Disney and Nickolodean shows (but NO SPONGEBOB! OK, eventually even Spongebob.) He was allowed to watch TV at times when Duhdee needed a “babysitter” while he showered or prepared dinner*. The Red Sox (and then Patriots and Celtics) games meant that we’d watch a few minutes of TV at bedtime together too. Do you see how far we were sliding off our first-time parent high horse here?
When Monkey was little, before the TV came into play, his favorite activity was to sit and “read” books. He would spend long periods of time flipping through his books, looking at the pictures. He would also bring books to Duhdee and I and ask us to read them. What’s more, he could SIT STILL for an entire book, sometimes multiple readings of a book. He would laugh, point at pictures we asked him to identify and use his signs to describe what we were seeing and reading.
I noticed that Monkey was no longer bringing us books to read. He was no longer able to sit for an entire book, nevermind multiple readings of a book. He preferred to jump on our bed and flip between his channels. He wasn’t even watching one show all the way through…flip, flip, flip. And then his teachers began mentioning the lack of concentration in class, his inability to sit still and pay attention.
So a month ago Duhdee and I decided to make a few changes regarding the TV. Our TV was accessible to Monkey all the time and though he diligently stuck to the approved channels this meant he was watching more TV than we realized. So that remote control now lives out of Monkey’s reach. Then I told Duhdee that I was going cold turkey on TV at bedtime too. Duhdee was convinced this would lead to a rebellion of epic proportions and I was afraid he might be right but I was prepared to just work through it.
To our surprise, Monkey did not protest. He still watches Curious George while Duhdee prepares dinner so he’s not totally deprived, lol. The changes we’re seeing are huge too. Monkey and I now read 3-4 books, sometimes more, at bedtime each night. I let him choose half the books and I pick the other half (this way I am able to introduce new stories and not get stuck on his favorites.) He knows that he has to sit on the bed with me, if he gets down off the bed this means he’s ready to go to bed. It’s not a punishment, it’s just a fact. It was hard at first and he went to bed part way through the first story more than once in the beginning but now he’ll sit with me and read until I tell him it’s time for bed (unless he is super tired and then he’ll put himself to bed, lol.)
I’m just so surprised at how far he’s come in this area in such a short time. He will let me read unfamiliar books to him and not wander off. He will repeat words and sounds we ask him to. Last night he sat for an HOUR while we read books. Considering where we started a month ago, that is HUGE. We’re considering medication as an option for Monkey, there is some concern that he has ADHD…this makes me wonder if we are jumping the gun. He sat down and was engaged for a full hour. What do you think? Does this sound like something a kid with ADHD could do? Should we pull back and look to other options again? I’m really torn on the medication issue…I want what is best for him and I’m not convinced that needs to involve meds already. This is so hard!
*Have I ever mentioned that Duhdee cooks us dinner every night? He rocks 🙂