Friday, December 30, 2016

A couple of Kids' TV Shows Worth Watching

When Molly was a toddler, we had a no-TV rule in our house. We had decided to go "screen-free" because we knew it was bad for babies and young toddlers to watch TV or have too much screen time. After babysitting for that first full year for a family I highly respected, I saw the shows she allowed her kids to watch, and by the time Molly was three, we had a couple of shows I let her watch, based on my experiences with people I trusted and cared about.  The shows she watched were Veggie Tales, Peep and the Big Wide World, and a cute British show called Charlie and Lola, about a brother and a sister. We watched all of them on my laptop with supervision.  When Molly was about 4, I started letting her watch Caillou. Although his whiny voice really annoyed me, she seemed to like it, and her little young brain was stimulated by it.  Occasionally, I would pop in an OLD Strawberry Shortcake DVD and over the course of a few years, she probably watched that one about a million times. I practically had it memorized.

Now that we have Netflix, it is good and bad that it's easier to find options for our kids. I'm probably less strict (OK, I KNOW I'm less strict than I used to be before Netflix), but at least now I know which shows do not make my brain- and therefore, my children's brains- rot.  We have gone back and forth with a screen contract, but right now we have policies about watching TV and that seems to be working pretty well for us (see below). If the options increase, the policies must tighten! And I think since TV was invented the options have only grown. ;)

Here are a couple of "mother-approved" shows to watch in moderation.  It goes without saying that we approve of some of the old cartoons, such as Tom and Jerry, or Mickey Mouse. These are some good ones to check out while they are still on Netflix: (I think you will pick on my theme-- international kid shows! :-)

-Masha and the Bear

This is a Russian cartoon, and it just feels classy. It is something I can actually sit down and watch along with the kids. It shows ice-skating, playing chess and checkers, sewing, and it features some pretty amazing music for a cartoon. Sometimes I think that it is being dubbed, but I could be wrong. ;)

see episode: 6

-Hi 5 House

This hit show from Australia is a cute one worth trying out, with dramatic sketches, dancing, and singing. It got us through the heat wave last Summer, because not only did it hold the attention of our kids - both boys and girls- but it inspired them to get up and dance. Good for all ages, as well. ;-) My kids get a kick out of the accents, as well.... "..And I'm Mary..." lol.

see episode: 5

-Kate and Mim-Mim

Kate is a cute little girl with great  cartoon parents. She disappears into her imagination and this giant bunny comes to life as her imaginary friend. They go on adventures in her imaginary world, Mim-a-loo, and oddly enough, it works. Before you knock it, think Barney, but for today/ for toddlers. It feels fresh and friendly, and the music and characters are upbeat. The kids want to re-watch episodes that are their favorites... so in my book, that's a win.

see episode: 4

- Guess With Jess

This is a cute British cartoon, and it is about a cat who is always outside playing and doing Guessing games with her other animal friends. It is cheerful and cute, and the kids always watch it with rapt attention. Even the theme song is catchy, and all of the kids get excited when this comes on. And what can I say about that British charm and the kitten's accent? Precious. There are a few British cartoons on Netflix, but this is my kids' favorite of the lot.

see episode: 7

Honorable Mentions

These are the shows that we watch because we just didn't have a better option- like when Frances was a toddler, and I can still remember that we watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates or Dora ... too many times. But hey, when you have Netflix, you're always finding better content... I hope!

-Word Party (maybe)
This is a good show for toddlers, and the plus side is that it encourages literacy and verbal-ness (is that a word? ha) in children. The downside is that the older kids may or may not tolerate it, because it is very repetitive!
-Sofia the First (maybe)
Again, little girls will enjoy this, but some of the episodes conflict with our perspective/faith. ;)
-Power Rangers (maybe)
Little boys will watch this. I'm putting it on the (maybe-- to be considered) list, because even our girls will watch this show; the downside is that "power struggles" and fighting may seem to be the theme at first glance;)

Here are a few guidelines that we keep in our house:

-Take turns letting children pick

Remember that some shows seem dorky, but they are aimed at 1-or 2-year-olds. The older kids will have absolutely no patience for Dora, while a 2-year old might enjoy it and get something out of it. We have a rule in our house that you MUST rotate letting children decide what to watch. Often when Anders is watching a boy show, the girls go off and play!

-Have prescribed boundaries for "screen-time"

The important thing is expectations, and sometimes it is more important for parents to know and establish the expectations in their own minds. That is the first and most important, logical step. The kids should also know your expectations, and the amount of TV they are allowed to watch should be a common sense rule in the house. If the parents don't know how much is too much, the kids won't either. We have an established routine, so they know the exact times during the day when TV is allowed and when it is forbidden.

-Use supervision, within reason

No one is going to watch kid shows next to their child all the time. When are you going to take a shower, or clean the kitchen, or do the dishes?  Occasionally you'll be watching over their shoulder, and it should be pretty easy to realize or recognize when a character on a show is acting bratty, rude, or inappropriate. It would be crazy to assume that these character traits aren't going to slowly but surely rub off on  your kiddos. Turn those shows off! ;-)

-Use common sense and good judgment

TV is here to stay. It has been here since it was invented. Does that mean we can now be lazy and use it as a drug or a babysitter? Obviously, no.  Absolutely do not get addicted and don't let your kids become screen-addicted robots! Keep a strict time limit in your home and don't make it the default activity everyday and night. I hope that's common sense, but addiction is a real and scary thing. ;)

The good thing about being strict, however, is that when you find a show that you like and trust, you can go back and watch favorite episodes from a season, rather than turning to a new crappy show just because you're bored out of your mind from no options combined with all the cold weather. #haha
Stick to your guns, parents. Set a good example. If you're not sure if you have good boundaries in your home, talk to a friend you trust about the rules they keep in their house. ;-) If you have friends you trust, most will say it is Ok to have a few shows in your arsenal to turn to... in fact I hope you have gracious people like that in your life!!!;)
Linking up with Kelly

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