You asked

My child is disturbed about something he saw on television. What do I say to him?

The trouble with television and preschoolers is that preschoolers don’t understand the difference between make believe and reality. That means that whatever your child sees on television, whether it’s a car accident or a monster, your child assumes to be real.

By the time your child reaches four, he will probably understand that what happens on television is not necessarily real, but may not understand yet that if something that happens in a cartoon happens in real life, the results will be very different.

As much as you try to shield your child from violence in the media, there are still times when you will be caught unprepared – like advertisements or even movies that you had forgotten were violent.

The best course of action is to be very choosy about what you allow your child to watch. If you’re not sure about the content, then watch it by yourself first, before you let your child watch with you. Limit the amount of television and movies your child watches each day to two hours, and if something does suddenly happen that you’re not comfortable with, don’t be afraid of changing the channel.

Try to stick to children’s programmes for your children, and watch them on DVD if you can, to avoid the possibility of violent adverts in between programs. Also remember that even some television shows designed for children have levels of violence and bad behaviour that you might find unacceptable. Feel free to ban them in your home if you do.

Lastly, remember that it’s not only violence on the news, in television programs and in movies that you need to worry about. If your child plays video games, make sure it’s only age appropriate ones, and that you check beforehand that there’s no violence or other unacceptable content.

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