TV Makes Me a Better Parent

My kid is almost three. He loves trains (and destruction). He is a huge fans of peas (and Doritos). He can stick handle a ball in the driveway, count to 20, and knows his colors, alphabet, and shapes. His teachers are me, his dad, and PBS.

Despite conventional wisdom about its perils, TV makes me a better parent.

Supporting Life Lessons

When our smoke detector went off thanks to a particularly steamy shower, my son was surprised by the noise and could have easily been scared. How do we explain the difference between steam and smoke to a 2 ½ year old? Turns out, Word World already did in “Firefighters to the Rescue.”

We talked about what happened, we talked about having seen it on tv, and then we watched the episode again the next day. What could have been a scary experience for my son turned into an opportunity to relate to one of his favorite shows. It helps that fire trucks are pretty cool.

When our cat died, I was at a complete loss as to how to explain it. Sesame Street offers amazing resources for parents and, if we needed to, we would have shown him “Goodbye Mr. Hooper.”

Reinforcement – and Back Up

Potty training is hard. As a parent, you’ll take any help you can get. As we prepared for potty training, we read a couple of books and we watched Daniel Tiger’s “Prince Wednesday Goes to the Potty/ Daniel Goes to the Potty.” The mantra “Stop and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way.” was spoken a minimum of 15 times a day for six months straight. Sharing? When we remind our son, he’s quick to say, “You can take a turn and then I’ll get it back!” from “Daniel Shares his Tigertastic Car.” I talk to him a lot; the novelty of his favorite characters saying the same things I say helps to reinforce what I’m trying to teach him.

Exposure to New Things

I play music around the house frequently. Our favorites are “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis and “Gold on the Ceiling” by The Black Keys. I love me some Wagner but we hadn’t yet gotten around to “Ride of the Valkyries.” But after he saw Pocoyo’s “Music Blocks” Episode, my son ran around the house singing it for weeks. It was amazing.

A Friggin’ Break

For all of the benefits of educational tv for my son’s development, my personal favorite is the chance that I might get a break. Maybe it will let me jump in the shower without him trying to ride the cat or the golden retriever. Maybe it will let me empty the dishwasher without him trying to “help.” Maybe it’ll just give us the chance to cuddle and watch something together and discuss the adventures of people he finds interesting. Which, come to think of it, is one of my favorite parts of tv too.