Who knew Elmo was so Rude?

How can I teach my child manners if Sesame Street and Disney are doing exactly the opposite?

Sometimes we assume something is safe because it is marketed as such and never know it isn’t until it is brought to our attention, as is the case with the big crib recalls this past year.   The same goes for television. We tend to assume that because it has been rated or created for a specific audience that it will keeps the child’s safety and development in mind and rarely sit down to see for ourselves. Fortunately, for the most part TV does stage age appropriate, as you won’t find much for violence on Playhouse Disney or Sesame Street.  However, there is something else you do find that I never would have noticed if I hadn’t spent far too much time watching recently: Children’s shows are teaching kids bad manners.

Two weeks ago I was put on modified bed rest. For a stay home mom, that meant I basically get to crash on the couch while my son plays around me. This also means I am left watching the same shows he is, instead of turning on Disney at 7 am and wandering off to do housework the rest of the time. Before you cringe, I’d like to point out that my son’s attention span is about 5 minutes so he’s not sitting and watching these shows all day, they are merely ‘safe’ background noise for him. Usually he’s following me around the house helping with my chores or playing with his train set.

Of course I formed that opinion prior to my bedrest ordeal. Now I am beginning to rethink it. Why, you ask? Well, because I have spent more time teaching him not to spit or laugh when someone burps or fart than he is spending actually watching TV. Apparently sometime in the last few years, people decided it was socially acceptable for spitting and other noises to be a joke and Disney, among others, has begun to agree.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I know these bodily functions are necessary and seem to be a firmly engrained part of our entertainment, after all Will Farrell wouldn’t have much of a career without it and Spongebob wouldn’t even be tolerable. However, these shows are geared towards adults or children between 7 and 14…ages where they can understand right from wrong…or at least can be told.  Explaining to a 2 yr old that it’s rude to spit in public doesn’t really work.

So where do we turn for a show safe for my son to watch? Well, I thought it would be Sesame Street. In this case, it was Elmo’s Adventures in Grouchland.  Everything went great until the scene where Elmo has to give the Queen of Trash 100 Raspberries. For the parents fortunate to NOT have seen this movie, Elmo proceeds to make a spitting noise for 30 seconds straight. By the end of the movie, my son had decided spitting was the funniest thing in the world.

As for burping, I expect to see that in Fish Hooks or Spongebob or any number of other shows purposely shown after school gets out.  What I didn’t expect was for Goofy on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to let one go to the giggles of the rest of the clubhouse gang. This show comes on during the toddler-oriented  ‘Playhouse Disney’ block.

These of course are just two of the several instances I could cite and maybe should have been keeping a journal so I could but I’m not quite that dedicated. What I do know is shows like Sesame and Mickey have really gone down in my estimation of ‘proper behavior’.  I never expected to have to follow-up shows geared to toddlers with lessons in manners but I seem to be doing it more and more. 

 I hear people comment often on how rude the current generations of children are but what I rarely hear is people own up to it being their own fault as parents. We need to remember that everything we do can be undone by a couple hours a week in front of the wrong TV or video game.  And if you don’t believe me, think about this: Are you as cool to your kid as Elmo, Spongebob or Shaun White?  If you’re not sure, does your child have a poster on their wall of you or them. Does your kid stayed glued to every word you say the way they are glued to the TV? If not, you have to work twice as hard (or more) than their ‘idols’ to undo what has been done.

No one ever said parenting was easy.

4 thoughts on “Who knew Elmo was so Rude?

  1. I think we will be sticking to Veggie Tales then, which talks about manners and also about gratitude (being happy for what we have). We were watching some Sesame Street, but I might be editing that some after reading that.

    • Amy- We are moving towards Veggie Tales too actually. Fortunately we have been able to avoid the Elmo movie for a few weeks and the spittin has stopped- so at least the damage can be undone :-)

  2. Just thought I’d share: today we watched Curious George and there was a scene where they explained a well pumping up water and how it was similar to a straw in a glass. When George did it, he spit the juice out at the end. The Man in the Yellow Hat said, “Yes, just like that George…except you’re not allowed to spit your food out.”

    Hooray- it counts as the first ‘manners correction’ I’ve seen in the mainstream shows since writing the blog.

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