At 4, your child may have trouble understanding that TV characters — even if they’re cartoons — aren’t real. Unless he’s watching something created for preschoolers, it’s wise to stick close by while the TV is on. When someone dies or gets hurt on a show, for example, you may want to explain that it’s just pretend. Kids don’t really understand the difference between the show and the commercials, so explain that commercials sometimes stretch the truth to get you to buy something.
If you’re not sure what’s age-appropriate, try to think as your child would: If I believed this was real, would it scare the pants off me? (How many children have had nightmares after watching the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz?) If your child does get scared, don’t dismiss his fears as irrational. As much as you tell him something’s not real, he’ll still have trouble believing it. Better to say you understand how he feels and reassure him that he’s safe with you.
What better reason to limit the amount of television you let your child watch!
A good example of this is my four year old daughter. We have a friend whose husband has recently been on a political commercial that has been airing quite frequently, and I have pointed it out a few times to both my daughter and my husband. When we visited that friend, she told the man she had seen him and said that she thought he could see her…he also told her he was looking right at her, lol, but she really took it seriously that he could even see into our house!
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