General Question

marauder76's avatar

Best TV shows for 3 year old kids?

Asked by marauder76 (390points) August 29th, 2010

I am one of those evil parents who allows his child to watch an hour or two of TV daily. The child in question is nearly 3 years old. I am looking for the shows that are the most educational or instructive for kids at this age. We are already big fans of Sesame Street and Super Why, both of which are very educational. Another favorite is Little Bill, which presents age appropriate plot lines for little ones. Any other suggestions? Please don’t mention Dora, Diego, Backyardigans, Wonder Pets, etc. Thanks!

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44 Answers

Fly's avatar

I loved Arthur when I was little, and still do, to be honest. Each episode has a moral/lesson, and the kids and plot are very easy to relate to.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

definiley not family guy, or south park

MissAusten's avatar

Zaboomafoo is a good one, all about animals and nature. It’s educational and silly. My five year old still likes it. It’s on PBS.

In my opinion, the worst part of TV for kids is the advertising. Even good shows have too many commercials. You might want to look into getting DVDs of certain programs from the library or Netflix. I’d suggest:
Bear in the Big Blue House
Dinosaur Train
Max and Ruby
Schoolhouse Rock
Curious George
Little Einsteins
I’m still sad my kids have outgrown Bear in the Big Blue House!

Frenchfry's avatar

My daughter loves Franklin, and little bear.
Spider Patch friends, and Maggie and the Ferious beast.

MissAusten's avatar

I can’t help sharing this video from Bear in the Big Blue House. I just watched it and laughed my behind off. About 1 minute 20 seconds in, the otters start to sing about The Mystic Order of the Toileteers. I think this is my all-time favorite show for preschoolers.

Cruiser's avatar

Gotta go with the discovery channel…even a 3 yr old can identify with the fascinating world that Discovery channel explores. I did it with my kids and that is the first channel they turn to and I am amazed at how often I come in the room and they are watching it!

BarnacleBill's avatar

Can’t help you with new shows, but on DVD Under the Umbrella Tree and Fraggle Rock are awesome. The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) programs are really great children’s programming as a rule, compared to Disney and MTV produced.

My oldest used to like to watch opera on educational television when she was a toddler.

MacBean's avatar

I love Oswald.

jca's avatar

we watch Nick Jr channel and Sprout channel, both which have no ads. My daughter is 3 and she likes Caillou, Nei Hao Kai Lan, Wonderpets, Little Bill, Max and Ruby, and of course Dora and Diego (she calls him “Eggo”). i also recently pulled out some old video cassettes of movies like Aristocats and Lady and the Tramp, so we can watch some movies now instead of just tv.

i find a lot of kids shows are very hyper, and not good for end of night getting her to bed. Wow Wow Wubbzy has a hyper song, and some other shows like that get kids wound up, in my opinion.

Seek's avatar

“Please don’t mention”... all of my son’s favourite shows. Awesome.

Okay, but I have a 2 year old that says “hello”, “goodbye” and “Thank you” in three languages.

muppetish's avatar

Everyone knows I’m going to recommend shows with puppets :) They’ve been a big part of my life since I was a toddler, and I can never recommend them enough to parents (and everyone else for that matter.)

I’m with @MissAusten: Bear in the Big Blue House has to be one of the best shows for toddlers out there. The colours are attention-grabbing, but not intrusive. The lead puppeteer who plays Bear has a soothing voice. It isn’t as hyper as other shows for preschoolers. Those looking for a good show a child can wind down while watching (as @jca is looking for) this show wraps up with a goodnight song as Bear goes to bed. I imagine a young kid wouldn’t protest to getting ready to sleep either :)

(I still watch this show, but I’m a Muppet Enthusiast. At least, that’s my excuse.)

skfinkel's avatar

Sadly, all the research shows that TV for kids so young is really not good for them, and certainly not “educational.” Don’t fool yourself, your child’s brain at this age is fantastically growing daily—to put in under the spell of this machine for two hours or more is two or more hours of brain dead time. Better to spend some time playing with him, take him to a park and let him play, and he is old enough to have some friends to play with. These early years do make a difference for children, and you can do much to capitalize on them. That doesn’t mean that all parents do—but it doesn’t mean that you can’t. No one says that it is easy raising a child, but any way you look at it, educational or no, TV really doesn’t do anything positive for your child. Sorry.

Frenchfry's avatar

@skfinkel I disagree with you. I am sorry. My child has learned a great deal from shows.

MissAusten's avatar

@skfinkel An hour or two of TV a day is not excessive, especially if the child is active in other ways throughout the day. Kids can learn great things from TV if the parents are careful and especially if they watch with the child. If a kid is awake for 12 hours a day and spends 2 on TV and 10 playing in other ways, they’ll be fine. Of course, if they spend 2 hours in front of the TV, 2 hours in front of the computer, 2 hours with video games…that’s a problem.

@muppetish I love that Goodbye song! It makes me want to take a nap.

Jude's avatar

In The Midnight Garden

Ben_Dover's avatar

Sponge Bob

Aethelwine's avatar

Little Bear is the best show out there for children imo. I’d even watch it myself without my children. Looove the bear.

josie's avatar

3 year olds should not be watching TV.

Seek's avatar

Blah! I’ve been hating Little Bear since my (now 20 year old) sister was watching it. That and Franklin are nearly as intolerable as Winnie the Pooh. Nearly.

IMO, the best kids shows today: Yo Gabba Gabba, Ni Hao Kai Lan, Team UmiZoomi, and Jack’s Big Music Show. Oh! And there’s The Upside Down Show, but they only show that one at 11:30 at night. My son is rarely awake then. I’m not opposed to a little Wiggles action, either.

Aethelwine's avatar

All three of my children watched a little television when they were toddlers and it didn’t harm them one bit. My oldest is now in honors college studying engineering, my middle child is a junior in high school with a 4.0, and my 6 year old is just as bright (if not brighter) than her older brothers. Everything in moderation.

MissAusten's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I forgot about The Upside Down Show! Those guys are hilarious. Yo Gabba Gabba makes me want to rip my hair out though.

jca's avatar

i used to watch cartoons as a child, I Love Lucy, the Partridge Family, Brady Bunch, Mr. Rogers, etc., and i stil learned to love books and was an avid reader. Watching tv does not have to be a total substitute for books or learning. In addition, children’s shows now talk about emotions, family interactions, manners, all kinds of things and situations that are helpful for kids to know. yes, parents and teachers teach those things, too, but the shows can be in addition to what kids learn from parents and school.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

My daughter is 4 and she really enjoys Little Bear, Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch, and Jack’s Big Music Show. She’s been watching them since she was 2. You know, when mommy needed to cook dinner or fold laundry or something else “stay home parents” do, where I couldn’t take her to the park or play with her right then…

Oh and for “3 year old shouldn’t be watching tv”, both of my daughters have extensive vocabularies because they got information from more than just Mommy’s books and flashcards. My oldest used words like “actually and technically” when she was only 2, and in proper context. There is plenty for children to learn on good tv shows.

skfinkel's avatar

@Frenchfry Here’s a summary of research—

Does the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against TV viewing for children under the age of 2?


In 1999 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement about media and children. In it, the organization discussed the benefits media education can have as well as the health risks TV poses to children, especially those under the age of two. Specifically, the AAP said:

“Pediatricians should urge parents to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years. Although certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant caregivers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Therefore, exposing such young children to television programs should be discouraged.”

To read the full statement: American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on Media Education

skfinkel's avatar

MissAusten: I disagree—one to two hours a day for young children is not only bad for them now, but it gets them started on watching TV as a habit in their lives. And, TV is like a drug for children—they never want to turn it off. Have you ever talked with a child right after they turn off TV? they are vacant.

Frenchfry's avatar

@skfinkel All the statics in the world will NOT change my view. I am sorry. I do appreciate you going to all the trouble of trying changing my mind.I don’t listen to statics. I go by experience more.

MacBean's avatar

@skfinkel You know, your statistics are for an age group we’re not talking about… Also, my nieces and nephews are far from vacant after watching TV. Maybe the kids you talk to are just dim in general…?

YARNLADY's avatar

@skfinkel vacant You have been talking to children who are the exact opposite of my experience.

@marauder76 The best TV program is the one you watch with them. They love to share what they are seeing on the TV. You sing along with them, you repeat the words, questions, clues, etc with them, you make the guesses with them. They are so happy to interact with you, it doesn’t matter which one you watch. My grandson’s really love talking about the shows we have watched together.

The latest one is the eggs that hatch into chickens. My grandson was so disappointed that our eggs were “eating” eggs, he asked for “real chicken eggs”. We talked about the responsibility of raising chickens, and finally visited a chicken farm, where he could see the whole process.

Remember, I grew up on a farm, where we fed, raised, killed and processed our chickens for food, and I believe my grandsons should see the entire “circle of life” for themselves, as my sons have.

MissAusten's avatar

@skfinkel Let me describe what my 5 year old does when he finishes watching an episode of one of his favorite shows, Ben 10. He runs to the drawer where we keep art supplies, pulls out paper and crayons, and makes up his own aliens. He draws several alien pictures, then I staple them together to make a book. He dictates a story about all of the aliens, and I write it down for him in the book. Then, I read him the book about a million and twelve times. He has a collection of these “books” in his room, featuring everything from Star Wars to Ben 10 to dinosaurs (his other favorite program is Walking with Dinosaurs). He is anything but vacant after watching a TV show. My two older kids also follow up TV watching with running outside to pretend to be their favorite characters or asking to build or create something inspired by what they’re interested in. Like I said, if they watch TV all day or move from one electronic entertainment to another, it’s way too much. One or two TV shows during the day hasn’t negatively affected my kids at all. All three of them are very intelligent and active. All of them do well in school, not just with grades but with their behavior.

skfinkel's avatar

@MissAusten I love your description of your 10 year old son. And how you follow up afterwards. Obviously, your experience is terrific, creative, and not problematic. However, we were talking about tv for young children. This is the group with the exploding neurons in their brains, and for whom a few hours of tv a day is a complete waste. I appreciate people not looking at statistics and balancing that with their own experience—that is usually most helpful though in thinking about a disease (you could be the one exception—the one who lives, for example). But people who are looking at children’s brains and their development—that is different research, and it is likely that your individual child is not exempt from that finding.

We all know that tv is a great babysitter, and probably everyone uses it once in a while. But, it is worth knowing the truth and understanding what is going on—even if you chose to act differently.

MissAusten's avatar

@skfinkel He’s 5, and with two older siblings has been watching TV pretty much all his life.

I agree that my experiences are anecdotal and not scientifically significant. If my kids are going to show any negatives from watching TV, it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t think parents need one more thing to feel guilty about or become paranoid over. As long as it isn’t excessive and the rest of the child’s time is spent in other ways with parents who are attentive, the parents shouldn’t worry. Just my opinion. :)

skfinkel's avatar

@MissAustin What are parents feeling guilty about? I would guess it is mostly about not spending enough time with their children. Right? What else? (Unless it is about really abusing them or something really serious—and those problems are a whole different level.) Sometimes, guilt can be a useful guide to change one’s behavior.

MacBean's avatar

@skfinkel “What are parents feeling guilty about?” People like you passing judgment on their parenting techniques?

MissAusten's avatar

@MacBean hit the nail on the head. Your kid watches TV, you’re doing something wrong. Your kid gets a Happy Meal: wrong. Your kid throws a fit in public: your fault. Your kid acts up at school: your fault. Both parents work full time: wrong. Feed your kid organic food: wrong for wasting money. Don’t buy organic food: wrong for risking your child’s health. Let your kid walk alone to school: wrong, he could get kidnapped! Refuse to let your kid out of your sight: wrong, you’re stifling him and he’ll never learn independence! Get your kid vaccinated: wrong, he’ll become autistic! Don’t vaccinate: wrong, he’ll die of smallpox and infect half the city along the way!

There’s always someone eager and willing to point out all of the things parents do “wrong.” Not everyone is a stellar parent, but not everyone is neglectful and awful either. Unfortunately, even parents who are in the middle, try to be reasonable, and do their best, can’t meet the ridiculous standards placed on them by other people, many of whom don’t have children and haven’t the faintest idea of what parenting is like. Spend an afternoon running errands with a toddler and an infant and you quickly see how judgmental and quick to blame other people can be, even if your child doesn’t do anything wrong but only acts like a child, and no matter how you respond or deal with the situation.

The only thing to do is ignore other people, but it does get old after a while.

jca's avatar

@MissAusten:: Good Answer to you. Today we are fed so many theories, opinions, statistics, and thoughts by experts, authors, doctors, government agencies that it is mind boggling. If someone were to pay attention to all, they would probably be full of guilt and neurotic.

Before i had a baby, i myself would never go to McDonalds. I read the books about McDonalds and all the bad things they did. However, once i had a sleeping baby in her child seat, and i needed a dinner i could pick up for myself that didn’t require turning off the car, taking the baby out and waking her up, McDonalds quickly became something I allowed myself about once per week. I can’t take my toddler to a store unless i want to spend the whole time chasing her and not get any shopping done. My friends who have no children have no clue, and frankly, before i had a child i had no clue either.

skfinkel's avatar

@MacBean; @MissAustin Yes, it is hard being a parent—especially when people are after you all the time about whatever they think you aren’t getting “right.” Yet, I am one of those people who think that the early years are really important, and what happens matters. This is based not only on my own background in early childhood education and as a parent educator, but also knowing and meeting the numbers of walking wounded adults who are able to trace their own miserable lives back to thoughtless, negligent, alcoholic parents who didn’t have the time, energy, interest, or respect for their children to bother with them. I am not talking about the parents who do care about their kids but don’t always do everything by whatever book may be being followed. Everyone makes mistakes. But getting educated about what children really do need won’t hurt a parent, and it might just make you feel better about what you are doing.

Seek's avatar


As one of the “numbers of walking wounded adults who are able to trace their own miserable lives back to thoughtless, negligent, alcoholic parents who didn’t have the time, energy, interest, or respect for their children to bother with them”, may I respectfully ask you to back the fuck off, and let us raise our own kids. If we want your services as a “parent educator”, we’ll hire you. Otherwise, get over yourself.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Wow, some people really think a lot of themselves and the delusion that they know what’s better for everyone else’s child than that child’s parents…

Lemme give you a rundown of what a “decent parent” does: I’ll base it on myself since I think I’m kinda the bomb with my kids right now. I spank them when I think they need it, I send them to time out or ground them when I know it will work at that moment, I buy organic veggies and meat when I can afford it, I let them eat packaged fruit cups and lunchables when they need something quick and easy, my oldest ( 9 yrs old) daughter is on a swim team after school, my youngest (4 yrs old) takes gymnastics, I am doing “schoolwork” with my youngest while her sister is at school, we also play games and read and color and play outside and she also has independent playtime with her dolls (she actually tells me “I’m going to play in my room alone now”), my oldest watches the news with me in the mornings and the disney channel sometimes in the afternoons, my youngest watches the sprout channel and has learned a LOT from it, instead of vaccinating against chicken pox which can become dangerous in adults who contract it, I took my kids and smeared them all over another child who had chicken pox- they are now immune without getting potentially hazardous chemicals injected into ther bloodstream, I let them listen to rock music as long as it’s not filled with violence and bad language (they both love Muse and Paramore), I let them pick out their own clothes, I let them make their own decisions about whether or not to wash their hair each night at bath time (they usually make the logical decision for that night), they both have age appropriate chores that they are paid for, my oldest is paid for A’s on her report card, I bribe them with dessert to eat a good dinner (which works with them)....... I could go on.

Both my kids are healthy and wonderful and extremely intelligent. You know why? I don’t keep them in a bubble, I don’t shield them from life. I parent them the way I wanted to be parented when I was little, and it works. I make choices for them, based on who they are and what they are, and I don’t make choices for them based on what psychologists and “educators” tell me I should do. My daughters make me proud in public and they both get a lot of compliments on how well mannered and well spoken they are, including the 4 year old.

Oh, I almost forgot, my oldest was colicky as a baby, and I accidently discovered that sometimes the only way to get her to sleep was to put her in her swing and turn on The Mummy with Brendan Fraiser. Apparently the muted orange and brown colors and the soundtrack soothed her, because it lulled her to sleep every time. Despite hours of rocking and patting and feeding and changing and snuggling and singing, turning on that movie worked like a charm. So technically, my oldest has been watching TV ever since she was 4 months old. I should be shot, right?

MissAusten's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Oh, you bad Mommy! ;) I’m calling DCF right now!

My personal opinion is that people who don’t have children, no matter what area they are educated in or what they do for a living, should refrain from giving parenting advice. It’s one of those things that until you’ve done it, you have no clue, no matter how many classes, books, articles, TV shows, or whatever you’ve used to form your opinions.

We had a pediatrician once who was extremely opinionated on infants’ sleep habits and schedules. I let her lecture me, then did whatever I felt was best for my own kids. While I would happily defer to her for medical advice, parenting decisions such as where a baby sleeps or whether or not to use a pacifier are completely up to the parents. I’m not going to take advice from someone, even a pediatrician, who has no idea at all what it’s like to live with a newborn.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@MissAusten Please don’t turn me in! Really! I swear I’ll be good!

Thanks, though. And I agree with you that no one can tell you what is best for your kids, unless they’ve already been there and done that. Both my babies used “binkies”, and our 4 yr old still gets in our bed in the middle of the night pretty frequently. Our 9 yr old even gets in bed with us when we have thunderstorms. I’m not one of those moms who turns up her nose and says “oh, they’re much too old for that”. If my kiddos need the comfort and safety of my bed, then so be it. Now, when they are teenagers, we may have to reevaluate the situation… LOL.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr You are certainly free to accept or reject the well intended suggestions of fellow Jellies, but your attack is completely unwarranted. I am on this site because I value the insights I read here. If you don’t happen to find the comments of other users to be useful, that’s your loss.

MacBean's avatar

”...your attack is completely unwarranted.”

That’s kind of like poking a lion with a sharp stick and then saying it was unwarranted when it bites you.

Seek's avatar


If I’m not mistaken, this question is about appropriate television shows for children, and not about whether formerly abused people are good parents or in need of a good firm hand-holding.

I do not appreciate @skfinkel implying that I (as an abuse victim) or @MissAusten, or anyone else for that matter, is a less-than-acceptable parent in need of her “help”, no matter how unasked for or “unwarranted” it may be. A suggestion I would have let slide, but @skfinkel has continued to push the issue, amidst constant kind requests to let the subject go. Bringing abuse victims into it happened to push a button that demanded I respond.

So, if you don’t mind, I’ll cut my “losses” as I see fit.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr thank you for clarifying that issue.

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