Last summer, Simon was in a horrible regression. His sleep was crap, he wasn’t eating right, and his sensory needs were off the charts. He was having daily meltdowns and tantrums and was prone to panic attacks. He was also becoming increasingly aggressive: shoving his brother and hitting me, specifically. If he got mad about something, he would push the TV table to the point where it began punching holes in the wall (Rental house, man! Rental house!).
He was also watching a lot of television.
The television would be turned on as soon as he woke and would stay on all day. PBS, Kids CBC, and Pixar movies, plus assorted shows from Netflix. If you attempted to turn it off, he would throw a fit. If he was outside playing, he would run over to the door to look inside to make sure it was still on. There was period of time where he would wake up at 4am just to go watch The Weather Channel.
So, a lot of television.
One day in August, I finally had enough. After the kids went to bed, I unplugged the TV. And it stayed unplugged. This caused a lot of butt-hurt with Eleanor, but, oh well, she was watching too much TV, too.
Within in a few days, Simon’s aggression had lessened. And by the time he started school right after his birthday in September, he was sleeping better, had stopped chewing on the walls (seriously), and had started talking more.
Now, I am well aware that correlation =/= causation, but I cannot help but think the lack of television had something to do with the improvement in his behavior. All signs indicate that he was regressing in preparation for a developmental leap, but the timing seems a little too perfect to me.
It is now the beginning of March. Simon has not watched TV in nearly 7 months. Eleanor and George do get to watch TV when Simon isn’t home (if he’s out with the other parent or at school). There have been a few times when he’s been places where a TV has been on, but he hasn’t seemed particularly interested. Simon does get limited amounts of screen time with his iPad (at doctor visits, when he’s sick, or if I just need a damn break), but it not a regular thing. He also does get to watch YouTube guinea pig videos on my phone (reward for taking his medicine) and he absolutely loves to play with the photo booth app on my laptop. But, no TV. None. Zip. Zilch.
Now, I would be perfectly happy if we never turned it back on. I like not having it on all the damn time. Even after the kids are in bed at night, I barely watch TV myself anymore. I’ll watch Big Bang Theory if I’m in the mood, but I’m okay missing it, too. If I’m working on a cross-stitch project, I’ll sit and watch Amazing Race or something on Netflix, but, meh, I’m not bothered either way. I will watch movies on my laptop at night, but that’s about it.
However, I know Adam would like to be able to have the TV back on. He would like to be able to watch stuff like football when the kids are awake. And, I will freely admit, it would make parenting a hell of a lot easier to be able to turn on Toy Story or something from time to time so we can get a break. I’m looking at the calendar and the summer, and months of no school, seems awfully damn close. With Adam working from home and no TV, it’s going to be a hell of a long season.
So, what to do? Do we trial Simon back on TV and see how he does with it?
I’m trying to figure out a balance here, something between all and none. There’s got to be a point of moderation, someplace, right?
I worry, though. Simon is doing so incredibly well right now and I don’t want to risk that progress.
The Television Question. It’s a tough one. I don’t know that there’s a right answer.