Think about the time you spent with your parents in front of the tv. Whether it was “Three’s Company” or “The Big Bang Theory,” you may not have thought of tv time as an important bonding experience. You may think of watching a tv show with your kids as a way to keep them quiet for a half hour, but it is much more than that. Watching tv creates a perfect environment for discussion with your kids. Whether its about a certain character, turn of events, or even the morals behind a show, find out why tv time is so important for families.
Think about what your favorite shows portray. Can you have a frank discussion with your child about death or politics out of the blue? Or about the differences between reality and fiction? These conversations don’t typically happen on cue. However, a great story can spur discussions about topics big and small. While a shared television program isn’t the only way to start a conversation, it is one of the best and easiest. Granted, you shouldn’t try to expose your children to something they are not ready for. “Game of Thrones” may be a bit too scary for an 8-year-old, no matter how much you love the show and want to share it with them. Keep the content age appropriate. Some of these shows are great for discussions about reality and fiction but are probably better left for until they are older.
However, if you find a show you both enjoy, you can discuss some pretty big issues. Is it ok for (insert character) to lie or break the rules, even if it was for a good cause? How can you explain this argument from both sides? Are vampires and werewolves real? Does *insert character* fall under a specific stereotype? Are stereotypes ok? Your favorite show can turn into an honest-to-goodness life lesson at the blink of an eye. If these topics were brought up at the dinner table, you would be met with an eye-roll and a yawn.
A major part of watching tv with your kids is having the opportunity to get your own values across. This is especially true if the values on the show do not reflect yours. Have a conversation about the consequences of a certain character’s actions. Predict how that will affect them in the future. As your children get older, they will naturally begin to reflect on the behavior and decisions of the characters on the shows they watch.
The characters in your favorite shows have to deal with problems in certain ways. Having discussions about what is morally wrong is important, but what about what you agree with? We’re so quick to reprimand for the wrong thing. One of the simplest ways to help kids learn new behaviors and develop good character is to reinforce positive actions. Give your children positive role models, besides you, to look up to. Whether it is a working woman supporting her family, or a superhero saving the lives of millions, television is the greatest time to find morally good characters and talk about what makes them so great.
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