Setting TV rules for your children as part of a larger set of work-at-home ground rules benefits both you and your child. And though kids would probably prefer no limits to for the TV, rules that restrict TV viewing give children more opportunity to play independently and learn how to entertain themselves.
Set TV Time Limits
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only 1-2 hours of TV viewing per day for children. Limits could mean setting a particular number of hours per day or allowing TV time during certain hours or days of the week. Perhaps you might allow a certain number of TV shows.
For us, I find it works best if we only allow TV on the weekends during the school year. In summer, we relax that rule but they don't watch roughly during the hours they would've been in school, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Set TV Rules About What to Watch
Obviously, you don’t want to allow your kids to watch whatever comes on the TV. But you can’t be expected to immediately render judgment on a show while you’re working or otherwise occupied. Choosing a DVD or recorded TV show in advance is one way to avoid this issue.
I find the DVR to be an invaluable tool in regulating TV time. It allows me to screen the shows in advance. I only allow them to watch what was recorded on the DVR (by me), so they don't end up watching something inappropriate because of random channel surfing.
Set TV Rules About Who Chooses the TV ShowIf you have more than one child and don't want to spend your day refereeing fights, this is an important rule. Kids will often make up these rules themselves, but they are not always fair. While you want to encourage kids to work out conflicts on their own, you may need to tweak the rules to be sure that everyone has a fair shot.
Plan TV Time AlternativesWhile most kids like TV, this is not necessarily the reason they watch. Often they'll watch TV shows they really don't care for simply out of boredom. TV can be so hypnotic that they just forget what else they might do instead. So help them out by planning some independent activities.
Determine TV Rules Enforcement Strategy
If you have to keep checking to be sure that your TV time rules are being followed, then you probably aren’t getting that much work done. Clearly spell out the consequences if kids watch more TV than allowed or inappropriate shows.
Be sure to emphasize that TV viewing is a privilege. Most kids can grasp the idea that when you abuse a privilege it will be lost. But also this emphasizes that TV viewing is only one little piece of their day--not what they should be doing all day.
Make Time for Co-Viewing
Co-viewing means watching TV with your child. Co-viewing gives parents the opportunity to discuss the TV shows and commercials with kids to help them become more sophisticated viewers. Carey Bryson, About.com’s Guide to Kids’ TV & Movies, names effective co-viewing as one of her 10 ways to help kids develop healthy TV viewing habits.