Are any of you like me, and have a love- hate relationship with television? For several years, I didn’t have a television and rarely watched any kind of programming. When I became a new mom, I was trying my hardest to nurse, overcome PPD and spending hours on the couch so I gave in and started watching television shows online. It kept me occupied when I wasn’t ready to do much else. There was a time when I thought I would not allow my children to watch any television programming because of its harmful effects on small children. Along with the studies that show the negative effects of television programming on young children there are also studies that show positive effects of television viewing on young children.
When the reality of having children set in, I realized sometimes, at least in our house, it is a necessary evil. Sometimes, mommy needs fifteen minutes to clean the poop off the wall, and to get over the fact that I just had to clean poop off the wall. Or when Daddy needs to make a third lunch that they will most likely refuse to eat. Or just to freaking breathe. So, we use television in our house to fill those spaces. Yes, we have puzzles and crayons and blocks and those work too, but there are days when tension is high. And on those days a stronger buffer is needed. I’ve decided to let myself off the hook for this and get on with my life.
There are many days when my children don’t watch any television, and once in a while, there are days they watch more than I’d like. When it is necessary to our survival, and our sanity these are the shows I allow my children to watch. These are shows that prioritize kindness and compassion and critical thinking. These are shows that offer lessons in numbers and words. Many of these shows also have a strong focus on working through interpersonal challenges which we can all use more of.
My children are under three so most of these shows reflect that. However, I’ve also included a couple of bonus shows at the end that are for older children. When you need five, ten or fifteen minutes these shows are great. Most of them encourage interaction and active listening by directly asking the viewer to engage with them.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this list. Do you let your children watch television? Is there a show you would add or remove? Any shows for older children I should keep on my radar?
15 Favorite Shows for Young Children
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Gullah Gullah Island
This show gives us a glimpse into Gullah culture while also encouraging a lot of singing and dancing. The family shares moments with the viewer such as carnivale and celebrating birthdays. The music is excellent, and there is a strong focus on Gullah culture and African American culture.
The electric company
There are so many important themes in this movie that children will grow to understand as they age. The animation is adorable and the characters are likable. I actually enjoy watching this movie as it has some humor for adults as well.
Bino and Fino
This show teaches Nigerian and African history in a fun way as well as shows how to solve interpersonal challenges. There are many teaching moments that usually happen with the magical butterfly fairy Xena. Bino and Fino is on youtube or Binoandfino.com
Doc Mc Stuffins
Doc is pretty famous at this point. I’m sure most of you know all about Doc but just in case you don’t, she is a doctor for toys. This show is excellent for encouraging nurturing and caretaking in children as well as critical thinking and problem solving.
Yo Gabba Gabba
I did not love this show at first, but it grew on me. I would wake up some mornings with the weird songs in my head. My kids love it though and I like that the show explores topics in a new way. The songs, while somewhat annoying, are helpful when working with my toddler. The clean up song in particular helps when Boodle just won’t clean to the traditional clean up song. Luckily the songs are pretty easy to remember….you’ll see what I mean.
Dora the Explorer
Dora is great for its interactive dynamic as well as being multilingual. At the beginning of each sow, Dora is faced with a challenge and uses her intelligence and skills and those of her friends to solve these challenges by the end of the show. There are great songs and Dora reaches out to viewers to help her make choices throughout the story.
There was a recent article that children who watched Daniel Tiger were more compassionate than children who did not. I like the show because it shows children and adults having real emotions and teaches how to manage them.
Tinga Tinga Tales
Happily Ever After fairy tales for every child
Sara Solves it
Sara solves it was a great show although they only made a pilot. Unfortunately, it was not picked up by Amazon. I am including a link because the creator Angela Santemero (creator of Blues Clues, Daniel Tiger and Super Why WOW) continues to hint that Sara will be back. Be on the lookout for Sara Solves it reboot.
Shows for older kids
These shows have great writing and explore complex issues such as gender and belonging. These shows do also include quite a bit of conflict which is why I do not recommend them for older children. These are shows I actually enjoy myself and look forward to watching with my children when they are older.
Avatar The Last Airbender