July 02, 2015

Q: My soon to be 4 year old son gets to watch about 100 hrs of television a week. I know this is a lot. My wife doesn't seem to mind, plus his bedtime is 11pm because she lets him watch cartoons. He throws a tantrum if he doesn't get to see T.V. I tell her that he needs to go to bed earlier or we need to read to him more, but she doesn't budge. She won't admit it but he gets away with A LOT. What can I do?

A: It is difficult to make any changes unless all adults who live in the home agree that change is needed. TV is not good for children and they certainly do not need to watch more than 30 min on a weeknight or 2 hours on a weekend day. Studies have shown higher rates of ADHD and behavior issues in school in children who watch excessive amounts of television. I would encourage you to look into other activities that he could be doing in the daytime instead of watching TV. A preschool or a PreK program would be ideal to help with the excessive tantrums, which will not be acceptable at school. If school is not an option, look into the HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) program which can provide a curriculum for parents to teach at home along with a teacher for 1 hour a week. Find your local program at hippyusa.org. Be sure that "daddy time" involves activities outside of the house, check out a park or a museum. If you and your wife are unable to reach an agreement about parenting styles and setting limits, you may want to seek assistance from your pediatrician or a behavioral therapist.

Answered by Dr. Carrie M. Brown