There is no doubt that television offers a convenient distraction for children sometimes. If you are trying to get something done around the house with small toddlers, cartoons can appear as a "savior". But there is no doubt the brain is affected by the kinds of activities it is engaged in most during the early years of childhood, and that watching television a passive activity doesn't really offer the type of stimulation most parents want for their children. Once a child is addicted to cartoons, it can be very hard to wean them. It's not impossible, though!
The immediate withdrawal period is hardest with any addiction, and television addictions in toddlers are no different. Like with quitting smoking, distraction is an important tool that will help a young child get used to life without constant cartoons. If your child is watching more television than you are happy with, it is best to make a withdrawal plan that will involve a lot of other activities that your child enjoys. This means that you, as the parent, will have to create free time to spend with your child while he's going through the process of withdrawal from TV. Your television-weaning plan may include:
- If you work from home, do so when your child is asleep or when he is otherwise productively engaged like with the other parent or playing with a sibling.
- Plan plenty of really fun activities that will take your child's mind off the TV, like playdates and trips to the park.
- Your child may be resistant to more "educational" activities like reading books or playing board games at first, so be patient and try again later.
- Limiting your own screen time, especially if you have noticed your children tend to gravitate toward cartoons when you are on the internet yourself.