First off, he and his buddies are freaky. In fact, it took Choi Boy a while to actually warm up to Thomas and his friends and he called them scary for a long time (while I not-so-silently-cheered and happily directed him towards other toys and characters). The exaggerated facial expressions scared CB and I was happy to keep him away from them. However, once CB became super interested in the trains, the exaggerated faces became hilarious to him and I'm sad to say that he often imitates them. Especially the angry faces. Grrr. Literally. (On the other hand, check out this fascinating study about children with autism and their connection with Thomas and Friends' exaggerated expressions!)
Secondly, Thomas and his friends are often whiny and pouty and boastful and mean to each other. They make fun of each other; play tricks on one another; and everything is always a competition between the trains. And they're always getting into trouble with Sir Topham Hatt! Their behavior is just not what I want my 3 year-old to watch and absorb.
Finally, he's eeeeeeverywhere. I'm not kidding. EVERYWHERE. When we were in Korea in 2010 he was everywhere there, too! You're probably wondering why on earth I would expose my child to Thomas when I dislike him so much. The thing is, I don't. Not really. But, if we walk into the book store or library, the Thomas books are prominently displayed. And when we go to friends' houses, and all the kids want to watch Thomas, I'm not going to be *that* mom and not let my child watch. And, of course, when Choi Boy doting aunts, uncles, grandparents, great uncles and great aunts find out he likes Thomas, Thomas he gets. What's worse is that, as Mrs. Yo-Yo once said, Thomas is the gateway train and only sets some major train-lovin' in motion. Sigh.
Since that darn tank engine is everywhere, we do try to limit his exposure to him when we can, esepecially when it comes to watching the Thomas and Friends show. At home, I don't let CB watch Thomas. We don't get the channels that show it on our TV, so the only way CB can watch is online or on DVD. We once borrowed a couple Thomas DVDs from the library and quickly decided we would not be borrowing anymore. I do let CB borrow one Thomas book from the library on each visit, because as silly as it sounds, I do want to respect his literary choices.
We've really cut back on CB's screen time, but when he does watch something on the tube (maybe a total of 1-2 hours on the weekends only), here are the shows that are momma approved for Choi Boy (and while I still have almost full control of what he does and doesn't watch, we'll be sticking to this list!):
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: People, I love this show. LOVE it. (Confession: sometimes I watch it on my own. On purpose.) It is so developmentally appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers and the songs are so catchy and fun. I love the connection to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (an old favorite of mine) and the lessons are simple, yet powerful. Plus, the characters are so darn cute!
Curious George: Yes, it's true, George is a mischievious little monkey. But he's never malicious, and I always play up the fact that George is a monkey and not a child which can be used to explain some of his crazy antics. I also love that there is a Math or Science lesson embedded within each 12 minute episode.
Super Why: I feel that some shows that try to integrate letter learning and early reading skills can often feel forced, but I don't feel that with Super Why. Also, the methods the characters use to boost phonological awareness are actually pretty sound.
While I can't keep Choi Boy totally and completely away from Thomas the Tank Engine, I am not ashamed to admit that I will excitedly tout the awesomeness of of the characters on my "approved" list in order to downplay Thomas...I'm so bad. ;)
Tell me I can't be the only one...what children's characters do you hate? Which do you love?