Why I Hate Most Kids’ Shows |
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Why I Hate Most Kids’ Shows

admin February 17, 2016

It was a Sunday afternoon, and my kids were watching Caillou.  Many parents particularly dislike that show (and me among them), because Caillou is a whiny character.  It’s a fairly harmless show, though, in general — your typical 4-year-old preschooler, living daily life.

But the more I watched — I was stuck on the couch, nursing the baby — the more irritated I grew with the show.  It perfectly highlighted concerns I’ve had with many kids shows for awhile now.

really don’t like most kids shows.  And here’s why.

Why I Hate Most Kids’ Shows

It’s been true since I was a kid, back in the early 90s.  Every kids’ show (intended for the preschool set) had kids and parents that were sweet, kind, and loving.  All.the.time.

Why be upset about that?

It isn’t realistic.  As a kid, I remember watching those shows, and seeing the same thing depicted on every one — the mother was ever-present with her children, fitting in a few chores around their needs, never working, never doing anything for herself, just being there for them.  These mothers were sweet and kind and gentle and endlessly patient.  They never got angry.  Never yelled.  They were never unfair to their children.  It actually made me sad that my own mother wasn’t like that.  Why couldn’t she make endless space for me to be a kid, mess up, have bad days — without ever losing her patience?

Of course, because she’s human, and humans don’t work like that.  It set up an unrealistic expectation for me, as a child.

Nothing’s changed, either.

In one scene from Caillou, Caillou deliberately wakes up his baby sister.  His dad’s response?  “Oh, did you wake Rosie on purpose?” he pauses for a second, then “Well, let’s go play.”  Not one word about how it’s not okay to wake sleeping babies.  Not even, “Caillou, we don’t go in Rosie’s room while she’s sleeping.  She needs her nap to feel good and grow bigger.  You need to go downstairs and play quietly while I get Rosie back to bed.”  (That’s positive parenting.  And some parents would just lose their minds and yell, “Why did you wake her up!  You know she needs a nap!  I don’t care how much you wanted to play with her, that is not okay!”)

In another scene, Caillou whines “Are we there yet?” several times.  And his mother answers sweetly, patiently, “No,” or “Not yet!” every single time.  She never gets frustrated.  She never says, “We will be there soon, Caillou, please stop asking and look at your books for awhile.  The time will pass faster if you are busy.”  Nothing.  What kind of parent doesn’t get frustrated, ever?

Of course, Caillou himself is pretty unusual.  In one episode, they take him to an active construction site (who takes 4-year-olds there??) and they let him help.  When he asks to go see inside the house, the adults drop everything to take him immediately (not realistic).  When he and his friend dig into the cement and draw, and look guilty when caught, the adult just swipes it smooth again without saying a word (not realistic).  And when Caillou is told it’s time to leave, and he’s loving it there, he smiles sweetly, bounds into the car, and says “Bye!”  (Yeah right)

I use this show as an example, but pretty much every show with a parent-child dynamic is like this.  All the adults are endlessly patient.  They don’t correct or admonish children who do something wrong.  Like, not at all.  It’s not even that they don’t yell (although in the real world, all parents reach the end of their rope sometimes and yell), they don’t say anything.  How can children learn if parents don’t correct them?

Why I Hate Most Kids' Shows

Unrealistic Expectations

When kids are seeing lots of these shows, they come to have an expectation — without even realizing it — that this is how adults will act.  And it’s not.  Adults will not be perfect.  They will have bad days.  Days when they lose their cool and yell.  They will have to say, “I’m having a hard time, and you need to go play and give me a few minutes.”

Kids need to be around real life.  They need to see real life, and how things actually work.  They don’t need to be set up to believe that adults are all endlessly patient and sweet, because they aren’t.

Of course, one solution is to simply limit how much TV kids watch, or to choose shows that don’t have a parent-child dynamic.  I do really like Wild Kratts.  Fireman Sam isn’t terrible (there’s parent-child but it’s a little more realistic).  Bubble Guppies and Team Umizoomi are okay too.

But this whole “parents are perfect” thing still really bothers me. I mean, who came up with this?  Everyone working on that show knows that no human behaves that way (all the time).  We complain often about social media being a ‘highlight reel’ and the pressure this puts on everyone.  We complain about all the perfect ideas on Pinterest and how we feel we can never measure up — never be that organized or creative.  And yet, we totally ignore how TV tries to make us feel guilty for not being perfectly patient parents?

It’s odd.

At any rate, I think shows need to be more realistic.  They need to show parents getting frustrated, disappointed, angry.  They need to show parents and children how to cope with that — that parents do yell, and apologize later.  That kids throw tantrums, and parents help them out.  That there are negative feelings in this world, and not only positive ones.  That it’s okay to have those negative feelings.  (Society really isn’t so good at negative feelings.)

Let’s just have real life.  Let’s have imperfect life.  Let’s have negative feelings and show how to work through them in a positive manner.

And let’s not confuse nonsense like Caillou with positive parenting.  Caillou’s parents are permissive parents.  They don’t correct him.  They rarely “make” him do anything (and he usually does whatever they suggest cheerfully).  That’s just not how it works.  Too many people — who believe in a more authoritarian parenting style — would look to this and say, “This is what’s wrong with parents these days.”

Well, I believe strongly in positive parenting, and I think Caillou’s parents are ridiculous, too.

At any rate.  Kids’ shows are nonsense, totally unrealistic, and ridiculous.

How do you feel about most kids’ shows?

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11 Comments

  1. I think that of all the shows I’ve seen I like Daniel tiger the best. The songs do help my son understand and manage emotions better than just talking about them. I catch him singing to himself sometimes. The parents are always there but there are shows where he learns that they sometimes have to help his baby or his friend. That is literally the only show I let my son watch.

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  2. We don’t have cable (crazy, I know) and up until a few months ago no internet. We watch little to no TV each day and when the kids do watch something it’s one movie or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It’s probably my favorite kids show. It addresses some of the things you said, about how to cope with feeling sad or angry. They have a little diddy to go along with the issue at hand. The adult sings it first and then Daniel or the other kids repeat it throughout the episode. I’ve had my girls actually use these diddies (of their own accord) to calm each other down or while they pick up toys.
    We also stopped watching almost everything on Disney Jr because it got too dark and not fantasy like. And as you pointed out, they don’t need everything to be make believe because it really does give us an unrealistic view of what everyday life is.
    My biggest pet peeve is when kids in the TV shows do things that they’re not supposed to do without asking or without an adult and there are no consequences. Good post, thanks for sharing.

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  3. THANK YOU! I’ve always thought Caillou was sickening with his endless trivial sniveling. The kind of child I couldn’t stand to have! And the narrator of the story, the old grandma voice is equally irritating with having to constantly analyze Caillou’s thoughts and emotions for the rest of us lke we’re to stupid to get it.. One episode Caillou has a meltdown because they can’t put up a Christmas tree TODAY! His parents tell him they’ll buy one tomorrow. NOT good enough for Caillou. So instead they go outside and decorate a tree in the yard to appease the little brat’s demands instead of teaching him that you can’t have everything you want right now, this minute! Caillou’s parents are the epitome of yuppy pandering parents who make the world miserable for the rest of us because we have to put up with their sickening, trivial sniveling children who grow up, act the same and repeat the vicious cycle with their own children. Caillou’s voice is so grating, it puts me in a bad mood. I will be glad when the little ones outgrow Caillou.

    Caillou’s life/family is a twisted fantasy that shocks children back into the real world when their parents don’t give in to their every whim, nor put up with whining and bad behavior. Caillou has no concept of consequences.

    I feel so much better for the opportunity to vent and rant here. THANK YOU AGAIN!! LOL

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  4. I totally agree! Daniel Tiger neighborhood teaches the kids to stomp 3 times if they don’t get their way, that bothers me because stomping can be a tantrum for most kids and it’s encouraging “act out if you don’t get your way”. A lot of kids cartoons are rediculous and overly fabricated. Good post, you are not alone!

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  5. Excellent post. I completely agree. These shows are huge disservice to parents trying to raise kids in an truthful, realistic way and set kids up for frustration in real life.

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  6. I agree too. Wild Kratts is about the best thing going out there because there is no parent-child relationship to mess with.

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  7. Wild Kratts is a favorite around here!

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  8. The Iron Giant, the kids movie has some
    Pretty good realistic parenting and it is such a wonderful movie for kids for Sooo many reasons

    Reply

  9. Wild Kratts and we also like Berenstain Bears(YouTube).

    Reply

  10. Oh…I cannot stand Daniel Tiger….one reason is

    because of the stance on vaccines, but that is just my opinion.

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  11. I don’t like Caillou at all and trust me, I read the books and had watched the shows before turning them off. What is interesting is that both my children when they were toddlers disliked the show then and always change channels or turn the television off. Why? Because my kids then told me they cannot stand his whine. I don’t even need to reach my kids right from wrong, they have enough synaptic plasticity to figure out Caillou’s atrocious behavior is cancerous to their well-being.

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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