Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Here’s what I don’t like about a lot of kids’ videos…

Posted in children by Kathy on June 12, 2009

The basic story line of far too many kids movies and TV shows is that you have a kid who is some form of brat — yells at his mom, lies to his dad, is sullen because he has to visit his grandparents, etc. — and then over the course of the movie, he is transformed from rotten child (through the power of Barney or whatever) into a good-natured and/or happy kid. I don’t mind the ending, but I don’t like the bratty beginning. In addition to the near glorification of the bad behavior (since the brat is invariably the hero of the show who ends up saving the day), it seems also to reward the bad behavior rather than punish it. Take Home Alone as an example — Kevin is a bratty kid who is accidentally left behind while his family goes to Paris for Christmas, and he ends up saving his home from being robbed. The silver lining (aside from the fact that it is a hilarious movie and I enjoy watching it) is that he is at least punished for his brattiness early in the movie, by being sent upstairs for his rotten attitude. But too many movies don’t show the punishment, or (as in the case of Home Alone), the punishment is too mild for the “crime.”

I just don’t think that most kids, especially little kids, make the connection that the bad behavior early in the movie is really bad and ought to be punished, rather than emulated. It seems to me that movies should focus on “good kids” and rewardthem for their good behavior, rather than on the bad kids.

Another thing is that some movies tend to focus on other negative traits, and I am afraid serve to instill fear or anger or whatever in kids, rather than help kids work through it. Maybe I’m lucky, but my kids have never been afraid of monsters or of anything in their room with the light out (although I do have a nightlight). I also am particular about what they watch, trying to minimize the scary stuff if at all possible, and explaining things that might be potentially scary to young minds. But there are movies that portray kids who are terrified of monsters, and although everything turns out all right in the end, it still plants that seed of “maybe there’s something to be afraid of” in little kids’ minds. If a kid is already afraid, then maybe they need to watch the movie to see that there’s really nothing to be afraid of after all; but to take a kid who has no fear but is safe and secure, and show him that other kids his age are afraid of boogiemen, then it makes me think it will make him afraid when he wasn’t before.

That’s one thing I like about Thomas the Tank Engine — the engines are usually helpful and cheerful; and when they have a rotten attitude, bad things happen to them, and they see the error of their ways and apologize. But I’ve turned off some kids’ movies and TV shows because of the snottiness portrayed without swift correction. In fact, this post is inspired by “The Barney Movie” somebody handed down to my kids. I like to screen things before my kids see them, and the movie started off with a preteen boy acting sullen for having to visit his grandparents (I’m thinking this is what it is — I fast-forwarded the very beginning so missed it; he may be sullen because he had to move and leave his friends or something), and then segued into him grabbing his little sister’s Barney toy out of her hand and running through the house hiding so she couldn’t get it. My older son already teases my younger son as it is — he doesn’t need more advanced lessons in the art of teasing!! And I don’t want him thinking (especially at his young age) that there is something wrong with going to visit his grandparents (because he loves to take trips, particularly to see Grandma), nor that he can act sullen with impunity.

I’m not naïve enough to assume that if he never sees bad or negative or sullen that he will never be bad or negative or sullen. Quite the contrary — his heart is already bent towards “bad” so why encourage it?! I hope that by surrounding him with good influences that he will be less inclined to act according to his negative desires, but will be molded into Christian principles — by force of habit at this point, but paving the way for making it easier for him when he gets a new heart, by God’s grace. “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

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3 Responses

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  1. Brandi said, on June 12, 2009 at 5:32 am

    i absolutely agree with you! my husband & i have had this argument time & again. he tends to be more permissive with our children than i am & was raised very permissively, as well. the argument has become a non-argument over the years but i never could quite verbalize to him exactly why i feel this way.

    i love your last paragraph. will be sharing with him & linking to this post.

  2. enjoybirth said, on June 12, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    This is so true. Even tv kids shows, my boys like Arthur, but in so many ways it bugs me that the little sister is so irritating and they have so many conflicts. Some may say, that is how life is with siblings. But I have to wonder if them watching that daily, makes them think that is how it SHOULD be and all my talking of being kind to each other, is overruled by what they see.

  3. Michelle said, on June 17, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Totally agree! We get the qubo channel which is supposed to be mostly “christian” programming sponsored by makers of veggie tales and such. And some of the kids and characters are so strange, annoying.
    Another thing I have found. We have been limiting tv, but have been letting my little boy watch some Sesame Street in the morning. He has been begging for happy meals, going to the beach and a pair of tennis shoes for about a week. Couldn’t figure out why. This morning I realized that Sesame Street is not brought to us by the number 16 like they said. It was actually brought to us by McDonalds, Beaches Resorts and a tennis shoe company.


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