A lot of times small children see something different in a show than adults. Often children look for perspectives to unsolved problems at their social and emotional level.

It could be that little Michael misses his mom during the day, is sad that his baby brother gets all the attention, or doesn’t know how to deal with a mean kid in kindergarten.

Or it could be about a micro-moment, like Emma throwing a tantrum when she sees tomatoes at dinner, because she has associated the flavor with a giant caterpillar she saw in the yard.

So when your child watches TV, he will find what is relevant to him, and not necessarily the message the show conveys.

That’s why some children have no problem watching Iron Man fight bad guys, but will scream in terror when a perfectly harmless pink robot dinosaur sings out of a bush.

Iron Man is in control of the situation and appears powerful than the villains, which makes small children feel confident and brave. The robot dinosaur however, moves with odd jerks and looks unfamiliar, which puts the child on the defensive: do I love you or run from you?

When a character has over-exaggerated features it starts to reach the uncanny valley. It will resemble something the child knows but will behave in an odd way, which often frightens preschoolers.

A good approach for any show is to co-watch it with your child and label what happens on screen. It will help her internalize messages she otherwise might  misinterpret or not understand.


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Our Miaomiao preschool TV series follows Miaomiao and her animal friends as they learn important social concepts, such as friendship and compassion, and introduce kids to Mandarin words along the way. Watch brand new episodes in Playdate with Miaomiao.