Daycare Dilemmas

Daycare: Time for TV?

Q. At home, I let our kids -- ages 2 and 5 -- watch only an hour of TV a day. But when I pick them up from their babysitter's house after work, they're usually parked in front of the tube. Advice, please!

A. Some experts say that kids 2 and under shouldn't watch any television in daycare at all and that older kids should only be allowed to see an occasional educational program. Other experts are a little looser in their recommendations. But what really matters here is what you want -- so sit down with your sitter and spell out your limits on television time.

If she blows you off ("Oh, all the kids watch Blue's Clues"), seems resentful, or, worse, just ignores your request, then that's your cue to find someone else. But if your sitter respects your desires, try to consider her needs as well: Does she let the children watch television to give them some downtime or to allow her to clean up before pick-up time? If so, maybe you don't have to demand an all-out ban on the tube.

Suggest that the children watch a program on PBS Kids, for example, or offer to bring her videos that you think are appropriate. And continue to monitor the situation by dropping by unexpectedly from time to time. Ideally, your children will be doing a craft project or playing outside -- not sitting on the sofa, eyes glued to the flat screen!

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the November 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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