Ah parenthood – you live with the unbridled joy of seeing your child say their first word, take their first steps, and live out miraculous milestones. But along with these pivotal moments comes hours upon hours of play time. For many caregivers, this includes time spent in front of the TV, phone or laptop. Because, after all, kid’s just love certain TV shows. And once they find a favourite, they will rewatch it five times a day for the next two years.
Every parents or caregiver will have their own boundaries around technology, but when kids do watch TV it’s nice to think it’s good for their brain. There’s a whole swath of kid’s shows and movies out there, but if you’re looking for something different – or are simply sick of CocoMelon – then these five kid’s shows will improve your child’s social and emotional intelligence. And, if you’re a kid at heart, you might just enjoy them too.
No surprises here, this Aussie cartoon about a six-year-old blue heeler dog named Bluey and her sister Bingo has become a worldwide hit. Depicting everyday scenarios with humour, intelligence and wit, Bluey models the dynamics of a nuclear family and shows how young children can navigate conflict and growing up. For children who grew up in an estranged family environment, this show can model what compassionate, healthy attachment looks like with parental figures.
- My Little Pony
The revamped version of the classic 80s cartoon is a gem, and the series ‘Friendship is Magic’ which screened from 2010 to 2019 is particularly useful for teaching children about big emotions. Based around the adventures of six ponies, each character portrays a feeling or passion. Leader Twilight Sparkle is cerebral and an organizer. Party-loving Pinkie-pie is a fun-loving extrovert. Fashionista Rarity values creativity and generosity. Introverted Fluttershy finds her confidence when she cares for animals. Hardworking Apple Jack is as loyal and honest as they come. And uber-competitive Rainbow Dash loves trying new things. Kid’s will resonate with the pony’s quirks and struggles. Plus, over nine series (yes, nine) there is plenty of character development.
- Lilo and Stitch: The Series
Many of us grew up with the Disney film, “Lilo and Stitch” and loved the story about how orphaned Lilo adopted a lost alien named Stitch and portrayed him as her dog. What you may not know, is that Disney also released a TV series about the duo’s adventures in Hawaii. Tackling grief and identity, as well as big emotions, there is a lot to love about this nostalgic throw back. Plus, the fact each episode focuses on them ‘saving’ an orphan alien really drives home what it means to find belonging. Lilo’s relationship with her older sister (now guardian) Noni, also depicts the nuance of a grieving family.
- Paw Patrol
If you haven’t caught up, Paw Patrol is akin to a dog-inspired cartoon version of Power Rangers – and kids are obsessed with it. Depicting puppies with unique skills and talents, each episode they are called on to save the day, and they must go through a problem solving process to figure out who is suitable for the job and how they can work together. This show is fun, full of colour and has a wide cast, so there’s always something new for kids. And who doesn’t love a good transformation scene when the super hero (or pup) drives their super-vehicle off to save the day?
- The Magic School Bus Rides Again
Another retro hit from the 90s, Netflix brought back this iconic series in 2017 with “The Magic School Bus Rides Again”. In doing so, they modernized the fantastic adventures of Ms Frizzle and her class of eclectic 9-year old’s. There are lots of pluses to this show – each episode is educational, and creates a passion for the environment, the human body and learning. But beyond this, it also depicts what healthy community looks like in the classroom. Kid’s will resonate with the hopes, fears and intrigue of the characters, and learn how to accept others through this show. If you are preparing your child to attend school for the first time, this could be a good introduction.