Don't blame Peppa Pig if your child is a little swine
Poor little Peppa Pig. It’s bad enough that she has to put up with having both eyes on one side of her face and has to wear a dress a bag lady wouldn’t be seen dead in, but now she’s being blamed for turning the nation’s toddlers into a bunch of demanding brats.
According to news reports this week, parents on internet forums are oinking mad at Peppa because they say their children copy the cute porker’s ‘naughty behaviour’.
The crimes the CBeebies favourite and her younger brother George are said to encourage include answering back, turning their noses up at vegetables (and demanding chocolate cake) and splashing about in muddy puddles on the way to school.
Is Peppa Pig making toddlers naughty Housedad of three Keith thinks not
What hogwash! We parents can no more blame Peppa Pig for our children choosing cake over cucumber than I can blame Dumbo for making my sons think they can fly. The problem here is not Peppa, but parenting: weak parenting. More specifically, the ‘Everyone’s at fault but me’ parenting.
These are the mums and dads of Princess Precocious and Tommy Tantrum. Kids who have never heard the word ‘no’, whose parents endlessly negotiate with their children instead of laying down the law, setting rules and drawing boundaries. You see them all the time, in cinemas, in cafes, in shops. Running amok, making demands, throwing strops, ruling the roost.
They’d be wrapping their wishy-washy parents around their tiny pinkies regardless of whether their viewing of choice was Peppa Pig or a picture of fluffy-wuffy kittens set to soft music, because such parents have turned their offspring into teeny tyrants.
Tantrum: Parents on the Mumsnet site said that many toddlers had started copying Peppa Pig's 'naughty behaviour'
And when their children’s behaviour gets out of hand (although how splashing around in a puddle can be regarded as ‘naughty’ is beyond me), those same parents don’t look to themselves and their own child-rearing strategies, they flail around looking for someone or something else to blame.
Kid has a meltdown in the supermarket because she can’t have a bar of chocolate That’ll be the supermarket’s fault. Kid comes home with a lump on his head because of a bit of rough and tumble in the playground That’ll be the school’s fault. Kid won’t eat her greens and answers back That’ll be Peppa’s fault.
Naive: Dr Aric Sigman said that parents should realise that what children watched would affect their behaviour
And not just Peppa —- anything on TV that parents think influences their children’s behaviour in a negative way. Well, of course telly influences our children’s behaviour, and of course it’s not always for the good. As psychologist Dr Aric Sigman said: ‘The problem is you can’t distinguish to children what is real and pretend. You can’t just say to the child the pig was only pretending it was naughty.’
But TV is only a part of our children’s lives and experiences. The biggest influencers by far are us parents: the examples we set, the rules we lay down, the discipline we instil. As a housedad to three children aged ten, seven and four, I love the telly. It is the best babysitter bar none. I’m sure it’s educational, but I actually don’t care if it is or isn’t because that’s what school’s for. That’s what I’m for.
My children have breakfast, get dressed, brush their teeth, comb their hair, then sit in front of the TV for half an hour while I get ready to take them to school. When they get home they have half an hour in front of the telly — it used to be Peppa Pig, but now it’s Phineas & Ferb — while I prepare their dinner, after which they do half an hour of homework and reading.
Then it’s back to the box for 45 minutes of Skylanders before teeth and bed. When I say it’s time for tea, or homework, or bed, they whinge, but they do exactly what I ask of them because in our house, my word is law.
It might sound draconian, it might sound old-fashioned, but it works because my kids know where they stand. And if at any point I feel I’m losing control, I use the ultimate sanction —‘Wait until your mother gets home.’ Something I learned from children’s telly years ago.