My oldest kiddo, Rowdy, is just 2 months shy of his 4th birthday. He’s sweet, silly, tender, affectionate and kind. But just like other children (and adults, actually), he learns by making mistakes. Recently he has done some hitting. And although his hits wouldn’t even kill a mosquito (arm awkwardly swings sideways with closed fist then lightly hits the target), that’s not the point. It’s hitting, and it’s not cool. Nobody hits or gets hit in our home – not the dogs, not the kids, not the grown-ups. This is a no-hitting, no-spanking household. At first I wondered if hitting was just a natural human reaction since he doesn’t see any hitting at home. But then I realized that he has seen hitting…on TV. He watches age-appropriate shows, but some of the animated movies out there contain some violence. Granted, even a 6-year-old could understand that it’s just a cartoon, and nobody is actually getting hurt. But it seems that a nearly-4-year-old might not be able to register that logic yet. He sees the characters get angry or scared (The Incredibles, Big Hero 6, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) and then hit their enemy or the bad guy. So he’s basically doing the same exact thing. Today he didn’t like it when I told him he had to change clothes, so he hit my shoulder (lightly, yes, but again, it’s still a hit). I showed him that I was very upset by it and made it very clear that he hit mommy and that was a bad thing to do. I went on to explain to him over and over that hitting hurts people. He soon mentioned Meatballs (the movie), saying something about someone hitting on that movie. I tried my best to explain that just because he sees someone hit on TV, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to hit anyone, ever. I’m really not sure if it completely sunk in, but I did my best to explain it to him all while telling him how sad it made me that he hit me. And because he is truly a caring and affectionate person, through tears he told me he wanted to kiss my shoulder, and he did. We followed that up with a big hug and kiss and lots of “I love you”s.
I’m pretty laid back about many things. I don’t get offended real easily, I can be vulgar, I cuss like a sailor sometimes, I like my cocktails and I’m a huge Real Housewives fan. I’m fun, damn it. Fun! And I’m proud to be 100% myself in front of my children (minus some f-bombs, probably). But just because I consider myself to be fun and open-minded, it doesn’t mean I necessarily want my kiddo watching violence on TV before he’s ready to handle it. But then again, these movies that he watches are not harsh at all. They’re aimed at an audience of children. He’s never seen any of the action movies aimed at adults. So, what’s a parent to do? To tell you the truth, I’m not totally sure. Something that I will not do is constantly point the finger at TV for teaching my child bad things. If I feel like the things we allow him to watch are having that much of a negative influence on him, I’ll simply stop letting him watch. It’s ultimately up to my husband and myself to teach our kiddos. And if TV was truly interfering with that, we’ll say goodbye to the beloved boob tube for a while. But my gut tells me that over time he’ll understand these things more and more, and our kind, affectionate little boy will grow into a kind, affectionate young man.
Do you feel like what your child watches on TV has a major impact on his/her daily behavior?
P.S. I will say that I do think Peppa is a positive influence on Rowdy. Yes, they’re British and polite, but I also just think he jives well with that show. It gets him in a happy, positive mood, and he responds well to it. And I will also say that Rowdy was watching some old school Looney Tunes the other day, so I stood there and watched a bit with him. I quickly changed the channel, not necessarily due to violence, but due to the fact that Daffy Duck was such an asshole. He was lying to his friends and tricking them and being mean. Have I gone soft? Maybe so, but it’s fine with me. So, here’s to Peppa and other positive TV experiences. :)