Dean Blackburn’s answer to: “What are the best TV series for 1-2 year olds?”

Cooking Shows are an often-overlooked option. Nice in that they are not generally "serials", usually last around 20 minutes without commercials, and show young children not just a wide variety of foods and preparation methods, but also help them understand how what winds up on their plate got there. As everyone knows, the foods on these shows seem to burst with eye-grabbing color, almost impossibly so. Anyway, kids love that!

Gardening Shows, similarly, can be quite good, "low impact" shows, for similar reasons.

During those brief periods of non-wartime, allowing them to see/hear some of what's on the news (in any country besides the United States) can also be a positive experience, especially once they start "axing questions".

As Jameson Quinn said, 1-2 is a bit young for TV in general, but keeping them away from ongoing series as much as possible (except, perhaps, Baby Sign Language instructional videos) is the best way to "trickle in" TV, so that it doesn't become FAR more addictive in later years.

Now that my girl is 3, our regular shows include Doctor Who (TV series) (lots of simpler/pseudo science to discuss, high degrees of creativity and imagination in the plots, and none of the old monsters/effects are very scary to kids these days), Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (some of those topics/themes are pretty dark, but the show was pretty spot-on for pacing, language, and content for the 3-6 set), and Pucca (long story how that started, but with each animated episode lasting only 8 minutes, can be a great "negotiation show" when there isn't enough time before school/lunch/bed).

I think any age below 4-5 is probably too young for solo television/movie watching for children. If they aren't watching with a parent, or at least a couple peers, then the TV watching experience becomes the "dreaded babysitter", rather than a potential conversation starter during or after a given show. With that as your guideline, I suggest the following:

Let your child watch only those shows you would be happy to sit and watch with him/her.

Finally, let me also advise checking in now and then when content may seem too advanced for your child, they start to squirm, or you're concerned it might give them nightmares. If they respond that they're not scared, bored, or otherwise need to be elsewhere (TV can be more interesting sometimes than dry pants, for example), then trust their judgment.

What are the best TV series for 1-2 year olds?

Deano’s answer to: “Why do kids not like to wear warm clothes?”

Based on my own childhood in Minnesota with “old school parents”, versus what I see in the Bay Area with my current parental peers:

Because, by and large, we massively over-dress our children.

Children may not be fully aware of their bodies, core temperatures, or potential for catching colds, etc… But in my experience, you put five or six of them together on a playground, there’s no amount of clothing that will prevent transmittal of all kinds of bugs.

Further, when kids say that a jacket is “too hot”, they may actually be on to something – as the querent said, their higher metabolisms do quite nicely in temps that most Californian adults would consider unlivable outside of Tahoe… And that most midwesterners would call “shorts weather” in springtime, with snow still on the ground.

Finally, based solely on my own experience: kids want to have more personal control – and when my 3 year old daughter insists that it’s not cold out (having stepped outside into the sun to test, but between strong gusts of wind), I have learned to respect her opinion, so that when her teeth are chattering a bit on the swings at the park, she’ll remember to at least put her windbreaker in the snack/water bag she carries when she doesn’t want to wear it all the way there and back. When I have the patience myself for such lessons, they are by and large learned after only one or two instances… But when we “baby her” as far as the weather goes, or always seem to have those rain boots or socks or knit beanie at the ready while out and about, she takes advantage and revels in the personal butler service entirely knowingly.

When your kid can verbalize their own intentions, expectations, and desires, try listening more to them, and accommodating or negotiating where possible. Amazing things can happen – I have a 3 year old who takes her own showers, fully dresses/undresses herself, and can produce her own non-cooked meals safely and with small enough mess it’s totally worth the free time I get back. Compared to her peers, she seems lightyears ahead, but it really all comes back to listening to her, and treating her reasonable suggestions and plans as reasonable.

In summary, I’d say it’s a combination: higher metabolism and core temperature, an accompanying misperception of such on the part of parents/adult caregivers, and resistance against imposed rules/yearning for greater independence.

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Why do kids not like to wear warm clothes?

Deano’s answer to: “Why do parents let their kids watch Star Wars at such a young age (4-7 years old, for example)? Isn’t all the Darth Vader / killing stuff psychologically not good for little kids?”

My daughter is currently rolling along just fine with old Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes… Which fall around the same era/level of violence. Based on her total lack of reaction to the violence and “scary monsters”, I’ve settled on her turning three as the time most appropriate to opening the original trilogy can of worms.

Far more than the content, though, is HOW it is consumed. When she watched Ghostbusters the first time, we stopped it twice when it got too scary – and we talked through the story whenever she was confused or had questions. We do the same with Doctor Who, and now she’s the one explaining the basics of time travel to mommy whenever we’re watching a 20 minute episode while waiting for dinner to come out of the oven.

Watch it with your kids, watch their reactions, and be ready with a pause or stop when things need explaining, or get to be overwhelming. And yeah, if they start having nightmares, or freaking out their teachers/fellow students at school, maybe tone things down for a bit. 😉

UPDATE:

After her birthday, my daughter was home sick from preschool for a few days, and we went ahead and tested the waters, watching Star Wars. I told her as we started, and consistently during the tense parts of the movie, that she could let me know, or just turn away from the screen if it got too scary.

Her thoughts on Star Wars:

  • the only things that are definitively killed are robots (Storm Troopers, droids) bugs (Greedo) and maybe Obi-Wan Kenobi (though she also theorized that he simply jumped out of his clothes, and was running around the Death Star naked).
  • Darth Vader dresses a lot like Batman, and might be a ninja.
  • “When the orange guys go ‘pew-pew’ on the skeletons house, and they fly in the hole, and then the other man and his doggy comes in and scares away Darth Vader and he spins and spins, and then and then it all goes boom and the doggy doesn’t get a medal from Princess Leia.†

In short, kids often make different connections with narrative works, and Star Wars is no different. Where you may see a movie depicting at various points

  • planetary genocide,
  • good guys shooting first (if you still watch on VHS, anyway),
  • and of course adults playing in wet garbage,

it’s more likely that your kids are seeing something else (okay, they probably also see the garbage thing, and are plotting how to replicate it on trash day using the garden hose and a city sanitation vehicle). The key job for you as a parent, is to understand what it is they see, and help “nudge” their potentially harmful interpretations back on track.

Again, as I mentioned prior to my update, it’s much more important that whatever you let young children watch, you watch together. Even something seemingly innocuous like the Berenstain Bears(*) can off “go off the rails”, or significantly diverge from what you would consider “healthy messaging” on a given topic, so simply looking for and relying on a movie rating or age advisory is bad, lazy parenting, and often worse than letting your kids see fictional battle stations housing thousands of living beings blow up to the cheers of the protagonists.

(* see: http://www.toplessrobot.com/2008… for the proof)

(† that part still pisses me off, every time, and she noticed it too! Made me so proud…)

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Why do parents let their kids watch Star Wars at such a young age (4-7 years old, for example)? Isn’t all the Darth Vader / killing stuff psychologically not good for little kids?