Why I Hate My Toddler’s Favorite TV Show

You know what pisses me off? Television for my kids. Okay, I’ll admit it. Fia hasn’t learned to spell or read only from us. We read books every night, but what has really taught her is Sesame Street and Super Why. Both PBS shows (please don’t take away Big Bird if–god forbid–you get elected Romney).

But what these shows, particularly Super Why, has also taught her is to fear–of the dark, of shadows, of monsters. These are things she never even contemplated before. She has always slept in a pitch-black room, with one small nightlight. But ever since an episode of Super Why where the little girl was scared in the night, Fia has insisted we keep her closet light on and her door slightly open. The latter has meant she can hear Emmett cry and subsequently she wakes up. But that’s not nearly as frustrating as watching her become afraid.

Her recent fascination with shadows is at times fun and playful (and annoying when you decide on a stupid whim to have her sleep in bed with you), but other times it’s steeped in fear. “Mama, look at that shadow!” she’ll whine. “It’s S-C-A-R-Y!”

Spiders are another one. In the past she loved to look at them. Now she screams, “Mama, a spider!” and runs the other way. Even spider webs, which used to fascinate, have her freaked.

I don’t want to totally bash TV because I am fully aware of the tradeoff. She has learned a ton from it. But producers, do you have to frighten in your themes? Learning is fun for them. Being scared isn’t.

If we never taught our children to fear the dark or spiders, would they grow up not afraid? Or is this something that eventually happens by being a member of society anyway? In other words, am I kidding myself to think I could have avoided her arachnophobia if she hadn’t seen those episodes? I’m not sure. I know she never learned the word “mine” and toy-grabbing until she hung out with kids who did that. But how did those kids learn? Was it just inherent in their personalities and thus this is just part of life? Or did they learn it from someone who learned it from something, and so on?

Of course when it’s appropriate, she’ll learn stranger danger (we should probably start on that soon), the basics of safety and eventually the staggering problems of the world. But during the tender age of toddlerhood I could stand her being left in the dark a bit longer. Without a light on.


Afraid of Dark Picture via Shutterstock

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  1. [...] Why I hate my toddler’s favorite TV show (Parents.com) [...]

  2. by Sherry

    On October 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Jill, great post! Very thought-provoking.

  3. by Bobbie

    On October 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I concur. I’ve often thought of this. The one that impacted me most (as a parent) was Curious George and a “creepy noise” in the basement.

  4. by Jamie

    On October 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Imagine that, another article from Parents bashing Romney.

  5. by Danielle

    On October 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! Caillou taught my girl how to whine and pout. Now, when she’s sad or shy, she puts her head down. But she also wants to tie her shoes and play drums. I can’t hate too much.

    She’s also afraid now. In the same moment though, she will put her arms around me, tell me she will save me, and say “there’s no scary monsters.”

    It’s a definite catch 22. Great post!


  6. by Mrs Luttrell

    On October 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Well I agree with you about the shows. I haven’t noticed my daughter being “scared” but I have noticed that everytime she watches curious george she gets a lot testier.
    Oh and don’t worry about if Romney wins that PBS will be shut down. PBS accepts donations and makes a lot of money, so I have little worry that the kids shows will go away…if anything peopel will have money from all the jobs created to give more money to PBS! haha

  7. by Carmen

    On October 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    @ Jamie
    Really, that ONE sentence, which wasn’t actually bashing, is what you took from this article? Tisk tisk

  8. by Dee

    On October 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    When someone puts “…-god forbid- you get elected Romney” as an unnecessary part of a couple hundred word blog post, it is, in fact, bashing. Taking that kind of time to get in a political dig is what should be “tisked”, not pointing out that it had nothing to do with the point of the story.

  9. by Mary

    On October 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Jill, good post. I couldn’t agree more. My twins (4) still like to look at spiders and are fascinated by other bugs and aren’t afraid of the dark (yet). I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll be a mild phase.

  10. by Heather

    On October 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    I agree to a degree with you. After one episode of Caillou, we never saw it again. Whenever a situation came up such as spiders, bugs, dark, etc I made a point to have a conversation about the show. Thankfully, my kids love bugs, even spiders.
    I wouldn’t worry about PBS kids going anywhere. With all the donations and major merchandising, they’re doing just fine.

  11. by Lauren

    On October 31, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Man, I can’t avoid anti-republican aricles even in magazines that are supposed to be about kids and being a good parent… Please keep your agenda to a more appropriate venue!

  12. by lindsay

    On October 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I agree, why not have shows that feature characters that are curious about things like spiders and the dark and learn why these things are important. Producers of childrens programs should take advantage of childrens natural curiosity not fear about things and use it as a teaching opportunity. Provide us with a character that loves bugs and shows kids how bugs play an important role in the environment. Or how about a character that loves the dark because she knows the benifits of what happens when it gets dark, animals come out to eat, we go to sleep so our bodies can repair themselves,ect. I must comment on the statement about Romney taking away funding for seasame street. Romney does not want to take away Seasame Street. But Seasame Street makes over a billion dollars each year in revenue so why should the taxpayer fund the show and not the show itself? In this economy, why not funnel the money the government was giving to them and put that into programs like medicare and social security? Programs that do not make a billion dollar profit a year. If you are going to make a comment like that you should get the facts straight. Misinformation does no one any favors.

  13. by Jill Cordes

    On November 1, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Hey everyone. I have largely held off on expressing any political views in my blog. This is the first time I did. And you expressed your views back. It’s a parenting blog. Yes. Which means it’s personal, as parenting, by definition is. I have written about far worse on here, like my ugly vag issue while pregnant. So I make no apologies for putting a line in there about my political stance. And I have no issue with anyone disagreeing with me. This is a free country. Post away. Having said that, this is the first time I did it, so yes, it’s a rarity to see my blue colors on the blog. Won’t happen a lot but that’s not to say never. If the spirit moves…. have a good day and our thoughts are with everyone back east.

  14. by Someone

    On November 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I once saw Drew Brees on Sesame Street and I was DEVASTATED. To see my favorite football player making a fool of himself!