Culture / Family / Kids / Media / Parenting

What’s on TV?

Among the many and varied parenting “wars” out there, the one that caught me the most off-guard was the one about television viewing for small children.

Now, given my previous posts here, I think it’s safe to say that I am a child of media.  Though I obviously didn’t want our daughter to be a couch potato, I definitely fell on the side of, “I’m not going to stress about it,” when it came to amount of television consumption in our household.

On the flip side, I found myself much more concerned about the types of television being consumed.  The issue was not about what she was getting out of it (though if she imitates Caillou one more time, there WILL be a full-on ban) so much as for my own sanity.  Our daughter doesn’t get much attention and craves being with others, which mostly means that if “she” was watching something, so was I. And I felt very strongly about what I could and could not tolerate sitting through. Sorry, big purple dinosaur. You’re not wanted in our house.

On that front, though, I’ve recently fallen in love with a particular show. Lucky for me, the kid doesn’t mind it, either. Who’s the lucky recipient of our fond feelings? A British import called “Sarah & Duck.”  The show is available on PBS Sprout, On Demand – at least through FIOS – on YouTube and Amazon for purchase or on the BBC iPlayer.  It’s, perhaps obviously, about a girl named Sarah and her best friend, Duck. Like so many other preschool-aged programs, the parents are not often present, and the main characters go on adventures, either prompted by a problem to overcome or encounter a problem along the way.

Sarah and Duck is fairly formulaic, but what I like about it doesn’t have to do with that. I like that it’s a slow-paced and simple show. I like that it doesn’t have a lot of business and that there’s very little whining. I like that they face their problems head-on.

But what I love is that the solutions to the problem aren’t necessarily about fixing the problem itself but about how to work around them. It’s not that I don’t think there’s a place for shows for our kids about going back and fixing mistakes or helping others fix their mistakes. But in this world, there are so many things, people, situations, over which we have no control. The only thing that we CAN control, at those times, is our own reaction and how we work around the obstacle.

In an episode called “Bouncy Ball,” (spoiler!) Sarah’s ball doesn’t bounce, and she is offered the opportunity to switch it for a new one.  She decides to keep her ball even though it is imperfect. It’s not to say that she doesn’t want it to bounce. She and Duck go through a process of experiments trying to teach it to bounce like giving it a head-start launch off a see-saw. Finally, the knitting lady who’d made egg cozies out of elastic yarn gives them a cozy to wrap around Sarah’s ball.

Perhaps it’s the over-thinking post-modern parent in me, but I found it deeply touching that Sarah loved her bouncy ball despite its inability to bounce.  I loved that the solution to Sarah’s problem du jour was not to fix the ball or change it any way but instead to accept it and help make it comfortable.

What programs do you watch with your young children? Have your views on what or how much they watch changed over the years?

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  1. Thanks for the recommendation. We do not watch much TV in our home. However, there are some Sesame Street song that I am letting her watch- vetted by me. We watch everything on YouTube.

  2. We have never watched much TV but did watch movies. Now, however, Zeca gets to watch some TV on the weekend and she watches terrible tween shows on Netflix. I guess I’ve given up in some areas 🙂

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