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Toddler TV Trouble

This morning my 3 year old son begged to watch a TV show on the Discovery Family network. This particular show is called Dinosaurs: The Untold Story. It has simulated dinosaurs and their interactions with each other. There are historians and other experts weighing in on how they lived during the jurassic era.

Even though he has been obsessed with dinosaurs the past few weeks, I was hesitant. I knew there would be fighting and parts too mature for him. On the other hand, it’s an educational show on a family network. He has seen Jurassic World already, so we gave it a try. It had some moments I fast forwarded, like a baby dino being eaten, but it wasn’t too bad.

Unfortunately, he has watched some shows and movies that I’m not proud to admit. I really try to follow the rating guidelines, but there are some movies he really wants to watch with his dad. My kids play more than they sit in front of a screen luckily, but when their dad gets off of work, they want to curl up with a movie or show. My husband lets them watch some action movies with him, but we try to consider how it could affect our oldest toddler since he’s the one who focuses on the TV during a movie. Our daughter usually just plays or falls asleep in our laps.

I’m not super worried about my son picking up swear words. I use “mommy language” as much as possible, but I still have moments. Like moments where there’s no substitute for f*#k. My kids know those are “grown-up words” and saying them means a time-out. That doesn’t mean my son hasn’t told a stranger at the grocery store that he shit his pants, but I know he understands the weight those words carry- for the most part anyway. So, language is a concern but not top of the list.

The scenes that worry me the most are things with extreme violence and/or scary situations with kids and families. Now, my son really likes anything involving cops, cars, and chases. He’s watched Baby Driver with us, and he loved it. When we watch a movie that we know is a higher rating than PG and we know there will be a gun scene or something slightly violent, he sits on our laps or between us, and we also keep the fast forward option close at hand.

I don’t want to shield my kids from everything, but he’s only 3 and doesn’t need to watch movies like Boondock Saints just because I want to watch it. I’ve even had to turn off the news, because he’s not ready to understand the devastation that is out there yet.

As a parent, I love to make my kids happy, but censorship is important. I love to involve my kids as much as I can, but some nights, I have to wait until they’re asleep to watch what I want. And that’s a big part of raising toddlers -finding appropriation in almost everything. Being a parent of little ones is a lot of sorting out “is this good,” or “is this okay?” It’s pretty much asking yourself a lot of questions. There’s always answers on Google, forums, and people in your family, but everyone is different. No two families raise their kids completely alike.

My son’s two favorite shows the last few weeks are Lone Star Law and Pokémon. The first is a show about Texas game wardens. They help animals, inforce environmental laws, and sometimes have a drug bust. I get a lot of flack for letting my 3 year old watch this show, but I’m going to continue to let him watch it. I do fast forward parts like when they have to recover a drowning victim. I try to use my head and think about what is too overwhelming for him. I don’t just let him watch a meth deal go down.

As much as I enjoy some good family movies and cartoons, I can’t watch Blaze and the Monster Machine on repeat for hours on end. I always hear suggestions like crafting together or playing a board game instead of screen time. We do the majority of the things suggested too, but we are a movie type of family. We like to make a big snack tray and curl up together.

I know I can’t be the only mom who let’s her toddlers stray from the suggested ratings sometimes. If I am, then I am. I know I don’t put my kids at risk, and I definitely say “no” when it needs to be said.

There are some totally, family friendly cartoons and movies we do love and watch often.


  • Pokémon
  • Sarah and Duck
  • Umizoomi
  • Paw Patrol
  • Scooby-Doo (Also watch A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and other Scooby movies and series)


  • The Little Giants
  • The Little Rascals
  • Monster Trucks
  • Minions and Dispicable Me franchise
  • Cars franchise

These are just the shows and movies that we watch at least once a month. We also watch the Harry Potter series, but I know not everyone allows young kids to watch or read it. We do try to do a Disney night every so often and show the kids movies from when we were little.

We also try to see the new Pixar and Disney movies when they come out on DVD. We aren’t really movie theater people. It’s not easy with me being legally blind, and my son gets overwhelmed in crowds. We would love to try a drive-in sometime though.

Feel free to share your kids screen time favorites. Please no mom shaming.


  1. TV and kids is tricky. There’s so much out there and, if they get a hold of the remote, all bets are off. When my son was 2-3.5 he watched everything we did. Most was family friendly, but my husband enjoys the movies with lots of action, a good deal of swearing, and plenty of questionable scenes. But my son really loved all of the Star Wars movies. He was completely fine with everything until he was 3.5 and we took him to a King Tut exhibit and he started having nightmares. Shows and movies he’d seen before had him waking up screaming. Now we have to be careful with what he sees and we tell at each other to change the channel a lot, but he seems happy with a steady diet of PBS and Disney Junior.

    • That’s a similar boat as us. Slowly, things he watched without any issue are getting turned off or changed. We love being able to watch things that aren’t animated, but as he gets older, he’s catching on. Glad I’m not alone!

    • Haha! I try that same pep talk only to have it end in defeat most days. I will admit, even I have gotten sucked into an episode or two. The episode where they find Rubble and he tells them he doesn’t get to eat everyday is heart breaking.

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