The TV and the Toddler Tantrum

By Adam Glennon

We sold our television. And yes, it feels amazing! The thought of not having one was a little alternative – even for home-birthing, baby-wearing, co-sleeping parents like us. But the notion kept recurring, could we live without a telly? Our three-year-old was unwell recently and all he wanted to do was lie on the sofa blitzing through Netflix. Just like I do when I’m feeling a bit worse for wear. The difference being, I know when it’s time to take those crusty tracksuit bottoms off and get back to work. He did not.

We had survived eighteen months before our son knew what the telly did, then slowly but surely, it became a tool – one utilised in emergencies, like wanting a moment’s peace so we could, I don’t know, wash the pots before tea time. Or hide in the bedroom eating the last chocolate bar, which we deserved, without those sticky little hands clambering all over us.

So we gave in, smashed the glass, retrieved the remote control and put Peppa Pig on for an hour. 

This is how it started – one hour became two. Once a day became three. In the end, there didn’t seem to be a moment when the telly wasn’t on. The house had never been cleaner. The child got better but the weather was rubbish – there was always a reason to switch it on. 

Then the real problem began. He started marching into the living room demanding to watch the telly. We would reply weakly, “why don’t you just play for a bit?” He’d look at us like we had suggested he start paying rent then scream in our faces, “I want the telly NOW!”

We began taking an active interest in his behaviour at this point; his staring at the screen, expressionless and open-mouthed, snapping at us – three-years-old and already done with play! Usually, the mere mention of the park would have sent him flying out the door, but he didn’t want to go anywhere.

We had to get tough.

We unplugged the television and told the easiest lie in the world, “the telly’s broken”. He was devastated. He screamed, threw himself to the floor, bit his fingers in protest. It took three days to wean him off. It was tough but he’s back to himself and everybody’s much happier. He’s forgotten about it and moved on to doing what little boys do best: creating utter carnage.