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  • Jeff Taraday

TV Shows for Preschoolers That Won't Drive You Insane

If you're looking for the Best TV shows for toddlers or preschoolers, you've come to the right place.


There are a lot of parents out there who refuse to allow their kids to have any screen time whatsoever. To those of you out there who are able to resist the urge of the digital heroin, I say "more power to you."


It's obvious that letting your kids sit around with tablets, smartphones, or in front of a TV screen for hours on end is a horrible idea.


But I've got twin boys, and sometimes we need to plop them down in front of a show or movie so we can actually get something done around the house - clean up, cook dinner, write an email (or blog post), take an important phone call. TV isn't something we depend on (all recommendations suggest no more than an hour a day and we are usually well under that threshold), but it's definitely a tool in our arsenal that we break out from time to time... with some conditions.


My boys are loud (VERY loud), and they don't sit still for long, even if the TV is on. With all the going on in our house, my wife and I need a horribly annoying show blaring on the flatscreen like we need (as my mom says) "a hole in the head." So we only really let them choose from a select pre-approved list of options.


We also set a "timer" and let the kids know that when it goes off, the TV turns off. That way they'll know what to expect as far as when it's time to get off the couch and move on to the next activity. This doesn't always work - and there is screaming/crying involved from time to time - but it does tend to cut down on the complaints by about 50%.


Now that we have the parent savior that is Disney Plus - it cannot be understated how amazing it is if you have kids - we rely on the below TV shows quite a bit less. Running my kids through the classic Disney movie catalogue is everything I dreamed it would be... but still, there is some other content out there that does provide some benefit.


So without further ado, here are the shows that you CAN put on from time to time that (hopefully) won't make you want to stick a fork in your eye. Most of them also happen to end up promoting good lessons and whatnot - but let's be honest, that ranks a distant second to "is it tolerable to have stuck in my head at 2am when I can't sleep?"


DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD




Anyone who loved Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood growing up will immediately fall in love with this show. And even if you didn't grow up watching the beloved PBS show that Daniel Tiger originated in, you'll still legitimately enjoy this show. For a pre-schooler focused show, it's really not annoying in the least, and the lessons that are weaved through the narrative are actually really useful for parenting - what to do when you're mad, how to share, what do you do when you need to pee/poop, what it's like with a new baby in the house, what going to the doctor's office is like, and much more. If you're not watching this with your kid, you're missing out.


Where to watch: Amazon Prime


PEPPA PIG




At first I resisted Peppa Pig because the animation is terrible and the premise seemed stupid, but the reality is it's actually an exceptionally smart show. There are a lot of dry humorous moments that will make you legitimately crack up, and I'm pretty sure that's by design. Peppa and her family are lovable and not annoying in the slightest. However, I WILL warn you that watching Peppa too much may have an effect on the way your child pronounces words - this is a legitimate thing - so just make sure you don't overdo it.


Where to watch: Youtube, Amazon Prime


DINOSAUR TRAIN




If you have boys, you'll likely look at the title of this show and say "holy crap, those are my sons' two favorite things." It ain't an accident. The creators of this Jim Henson studios show knew exactly what they were doing. Are the dinosaurs annoying? ABSOLUTELY. However, there is some pretty cool educational content for any aspiring paleontologist, and even a live-action section at the end of each show where a real paleontologist goes over some cool dinosaur facts. Definitely a worthwhile watch


Where to watch: Amazon Prime


TUMBLE LEAF





I really wish my kids liked this show, I really do. I know there are many kids who absolutely love it, and the few times I've watched this show I really enjoyed it. Something about stop-motion animation really does it for me. Maybe it's the Mr. Toad cartoons I used to love as a little kid tickling my subconscious whenever I see this type of animation. Anyhoo, the slower pace of this show will be a nice respite from some of the crazier flashier kids' shows out there.


Where to watch - Amazon Prime


WILD KRATTS





If your kids are into animals, this one is a must-watch. It's like a nature show morphed into a fun cartoon narrative. A little high on the annoying scale, but the cheesiness is tolerable since it comes with a lot of great educational content. Your kids will learn more about animals than you likely ever did.


Where to watch - Amazon Prime


IMPORTANT NOTE: You'll notice that I didn't mention any shows on Netflix. That's because Netflix is THE SEVENTH CIRCLE OF HELL when it comes to preschool-age children's content. SuperWings, Chuggington, World Party, Little Baby Bum, and PJ Masks are all absolutely intolerable. I'm sure there's some decent content on there but I can't risk my kids seeing any of the aforementioned cartoons and demanding to watch them. Avoid these at all costs if you can, or you may soon be fantasizing about putting a hole in your head.




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