Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's Caillou

To the writers of Caillou --

The episode shown on Sprout on 12 February 2013 at 6:30 p.m. Central time included a scene where Caillou woke in the night from a bad dream. Caillou's dad went to check on him, and Caillou said that he had a dream about a scary monster. If this wasn't enough, the next scene showed Caillou frightened by a shadow on the wall that he thought was a monster (it turned out to be a shadow of a dinosaur doll he had). This scared Caillou to the point where he went to Mom and Dad's room and asked to come to bed with them. The scene led to a sleepless night for the whole family.

The primary audience for Caillou is toddlers, and children under the age of 5 are highly impressionable. There are many thoughts, deeds and words that my wife and I hide from our daughter so that we don't "plant a seed" in her mind. For example, I would never come home from work and open a candy bar in front of my daughter. There's no doubt she would see the candy bar and immediately request a bite from the bar. I also wouldn't come home and ask my wife if we were going to the zoo the next day. The mention of the zoo would cause Sonja so much excitement that any change of plan would lead to a dramatic letdown. Finally, even if I thought say making cookies would be fun, I wouldn't mention it if there wasn't time or if we didn't have the ingredients. I'm finding discipline and restraint are two key tenets of parenting. 

There are good habits we are trying to instill in our daughter -- potty training, courtesy and patience come to mind -- that your program could model for young children. By showing this sleep catastrophe on your program, children now may think it's OK to wake their parents, complain of monsters and crawl into bed. Parents choose toddler TV programming and line the pockets of your advertisers. They also never have enough sleep. You can appeal to both children and parents by omitting the stuff that gives us nightmares.

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