Viewer Discretion is Advised

As the parent of a toddler, you might look forward to spending the occasional afternoon or evening snuggled up on the couch with your little one, watching a movie that you remember enjoying during your own childhood. That is not a bad thing, as even the most active toddlers occasionally enjoy a little down time. As you think about what movies you may want to watch with your toddler, it is helpful to take your toddler’s temperament into account.

We do not watch a lot of television at our house, nor do we watch many movies. Interestingly enough, there are more DVDs in our collection that Dylan has relegated to the “do not watch” list than there are movies that he enjoys. The high energy, rough and tumble little guy who has no problem with climbing to the top of the five to twelve year olds’ playground happens to be very perceptive and very sensitive when it comes to watching television and movies.

One of the first times that I noticed how sensitive Dylan is to the content of movies was probably over a year ago. My husband thought that he might like the Curious George movie, and he brought home a copy for us to watch. Five minutes into the movie, the Man in the Yellow Hat was exploring the jungle and happened upon an adorable baby monkey (George). Dylan immediately began sobbing and asked me to turn the movie off. He sobbed, and he sobbed. In between sniffles, he managed to tell me what had bothered him so. He was devastated that the baby monkey was alone in the jungle, without a mother or a father. It did not matter that things would work out okay for George. That one moment that Dylan realized that the baby monkey was alone on his own was just too much for him to bear.

Any movie where a young animal is without a mother or a father sends Dylan into hysterics. Likewise, any movie where a person or an animal suffers a severe injury. We were watching “My Friend Flicka”, and we had to stop watching it when the horse was severely injured. The stories on our Peter Rabbit DVD are not okay either, as they depict bunnies narrowly escaping an angry farmer and a duck who loses her eggs to a fox.

These are just a few examples of how movies that we, as parents, might consider harmless and appropriate for young children may not be good choices for certain toddlers. Make sure that you know your toddler’s comfort level with the subject matter of the movies that you choose. At the very least, even if his or her reaction to a scene in a movie seems overly dramatic, offer to turn the movie off. Spend time comforting your toddler, and discussing what bothered them about the movie. A sensitive and caring response from a parent will go a long way towards helping them feel better.

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