Friday, July 2, 2010

What is TV teaching your kids?

Owen and Anna you need to stop doing that right now. "Oh Man!" (Dora the Explorer)
You need to give me that toy. "Swiper no swiping" (Dora the Explorer)
It's time to go now. "But, mom - can we, can we, can we, please stay." (Dinosaur Train)
You need to get some self control. "I'm so angry. I'm so mad." (Ni Hao Kai Lan)
Use your words. I don't understand what you are needing. "Cup, Cup, Cup" (Max & Ruby)

Have you ever stopped and noticed the behavior of your kids and just perhaps the things they are saying or the things they are doing have come from TV shows you let them watch? The above are some recent examples I have heard in my house from my kids which are basically direct quotes from cartoon shows - mind you, I thought harmless shows - they have been watching.

These responses I've gotten from my kids are not the correct way I want them responding to me or reacting in given situations. Yet, some how the TV shows have taken over my training. So what is a mom to do? Well, my solution has been two fold. First, in some cases, we have all together stopped watching some of these shows. I work hard enough instilling positive behavior into my children that I don't need a 30 minute show teaching them negative behavior.

The second solution is to actually sit down and watch the shows with your children and talk about the behavior you are watching together and perhaps what would be the better way to respond or act. Just yesterday, Owen and I were watching an episode of Chuggington, where the one character flat out lies about the wash station being broken. And the show had no moral consequences for his lie. It was just all fun and games trying to find the train. When they realized he lied, there was nothing said about it at all. So now, when I saw that part I made a big deal about how he lied and we aren't to lie. And now when Owen watches that same episode, he comments on how the train was being bad because he lied.

Also, my kids know what type of shows I allow them to watch. Owen knows that he can only watch Y shows and when he sees Y7 or G, he actually tells me it he isn't to watch it. It's important to teach your children what is acceptable TV for them to watch and why certain shows are off limits. (Makes me think about what potentially inappropriate shows I watch and how they impact my life? hmmm....)

We have to be very careful with what shows we allow our children to watch. Sometimes we think the shows are harmless and fun. But children at this age can't tell the difference between a cartoon and real life. To them, the cartoon is real life. So if a show is teaching your children different responses or behaviors then you want your children demonstrating in their real lives, you may want to think again on what you allow them to watch.

I came across this great little article awhile back with more tips on some great questions to discuss with your kids when it comes to shows they are watching: "When a character is advised to follow her heart, use the opportunity to ask questions such as: why would [the character's name] want to do that? What if [the character] feels like she should [give a good option]? What if [the character] feels like she should [give a bad option]? How will this character know what to do? What might happen if this character prays first, then asks mommy or daddy? Walk your child through the ways the character could honor God and her parents and learn to do what is right (Philippians 1:9-11)."

I do think also, it is so important that you know what your children are watching and that you actually sit down, preferable beforehand to view any new shows. Making sure that they are teaching your children the things you want them to be demonstrating in the lives. Remember our children are little sponges and they are soaking up EVERYTHING they see and hear. I know I've let my kids watch things and have just heard what was going on, but once I actually sat down to watched it, I decided it wasn't something they were going to watch anymore. And remember, you are the parent and so you have the power to decide what they do or don't watch!

Have you come across shows/videos that you particular like for your kids to watch?


  1. Thank you for your blog. I share your enthusiam for raising morally responsible kids. The TV is a HUGE deal at our house. I feel very alone in this matter. My parents and my husbands parents dont "get it". My friends dont "get it". For the most part I feel like everyone thinks I'm being extreme. I am not anti-TV, but I have found that If I turn a show on, it is really easy to have the TV on longer. Even if it is a "good show", I just dont like how much it can influence them. TV breeds more TV.
    In the past couple of weeks I have used the TV not in the morning (where it could easily stay on longer) but before naps or bed, if at all. I have found that my kids's imagination has EXPLODED as a result. They are completely content and not asking for it constantly, and it is absolutely WONDERFUL!! On another note, I struggle with scheduling them so much. I know that I need to get better at it but have tried and failed so many times. I just wanted to thank you for your thoughts here and let you know I appreciate another place to turn when I feel alone. :)

  2. Oh, thank you so much for your comments! I truly appreciate it! ;-)

    Yes, it can be difficult to be doing the right thing especially when others around you disagree. But our moral standard should be what the Bible teaches and there are so many shows on TV that teach against God's standards.

    Thats great that you are setting up scheduled TV only watching times - it does help limit the amount that it is on. One thing that has helped in our family is the use of "privilege cards". We recently started the "Accountable Kids" chore system and for each section of chores the kids do throughout the day they earn a "privilege card" which they can turn in for a particular privilege of their choice. I have set up their privileges to be things like watching a 30 minute show, playing 30 minute video game, playing a family game together, doing a craft project together...but basically whatever privilege each family wants to set up. And I have also noticed that when there are no privilege cards to use, they end up playing together and their imagination is just amazing! I totally understand what you mean!

    Please know you can always come here when you are feeling alone -- we all feel that! It is nice to be with people who share your same feelings and beliefs!

    Thanks for your comment -- and just in case you didn't see on the earlier post, I was able to set up a way for you to subscribe to Moral Training via email now. Just go to the top right section on the main page.