15 best children’s TV shows to give parents a break (2023)

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It’s not good when you look at the time and realise your kids have been binge-watching Vampirina for two solid hours. They look frazzled – almost half-dead – and you feel like the worst parent in the world. They may even develop an American accent, like my three-year-old Liberty did after too much Kiki Panda.

Children can slip into a hypnotic state within seconds of switching on the TV and have epic meltdowns when it’s turned off. But in bitesize chunks, it’s a godsend. For knackered parents, like me, who need to disengage from offspring for our own sanity, TV is a lifesaver.

It has to be the right TV show, though, or kids get bored and start demanding your attention: wanting a rice cake with butter, or far worse – glitter and scissors. But what TV shows will transfix a child? It turns out that my kids could watch The Clangers all day. This 1970s-era stop-motion animation series, featuring woollen-knitted pink creatures from outer space who speak in a whistled language, is a surprise hit.

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As much as I wish my children could get hooked on Apple TV’s nature docuseries Tiny World or Netflix’s Alphablocks, which teaches phonics, I’ve learnt that in an emergency – or during an important phone call – sticking on educational shows doesn’t always guarantee the same results. But I’ve learnt what TV shows to switch on.

Here are 15 TV shows that will transfix kids.

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Under 6s

Bluey

“Yes! Yes! Put on Bluey!” It never fails. Whenever I switch on this Australian animated series about modern family life, I hear belly laughs in the next room. It’s got that laid-back Australian vibe to it, which helps kids realise family life doesn’t have to be so fraught and fast-paced. The show, now on its third season, was an instant hit when it came out in 2018. Bluey, a cheeky Australian blue heeler puppy, and her sister Bingo, try to call the shots with their parents – dad Bandit, who juggles childcare with working from home, and mum Chilli, who has gone back to work. (Disney +)

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Clangers

A blast from the past – but one that your kids will get lost in for hours. This British stop-motion TV series about a family in space entertained millions of children on the BBC show in the 1970s. It was revived for a new generation in 2015, narrated by Monty Python’s Michael Palin. It features pink, woollen-knitted mouse-like creatures who communicate in strange swanee-whistle voices from a small moon-like planet entered into through holes under metal dustbin lids. Naturally, they only eat green soup and blue string pudding. Each episode is 11 minutes long, so about five episodes in a row does the trick. (BBC iPlayer)

Zig and Sharko

If you suddenly have an important work call and need total silence and not to be disturbed by your kids, try putting on Zig & Sharko with the volume turned right down. It comes with a Netflix warning of “rude humour, violence, threat”, but a bit like Tom and Jerry, it doesn’t need to be heard to enjoy the slapstick comedy, although the sound effects are epic. The hyena, Zig, lives alone on a desert island and schemes to eat Marina, a mermaid, who is protected by a shark pal. (Netflix)

Octonauts

No TV list for kids is complete without a mention of Octonauts, which has the added bonus of educating children about underwater life. The musical special, Octonauts & the Great Barrier Reef (2020), will give any parent 47 minutes to indulge themselves in activities most people take for granted – like sitting down for five minutes and switching off. From the Octopad HQ, a team of undersea explorers led by Captain Barnacles the bear rescue sea creatures and protect the ocean. (Netflix)

Sofia the First

Sofia, voiced by Ariel Winter, becomes a princess overnight when her mother, Miranda, marries King Roland II of Enchancia. Sofia gets sent to a new royal school and given an amulet that gives her powers. Despite her new royal status, Sofia stays true to herself and always cares about others. If you run out of episodes, give the spin-off, Elena of Avalor, a go. (Disney +)

PJ Masks

PJ Masks introduces pre-schoolers to the superhero genre before they move on to the Marvel and DC Comics Universes. PJ Masks are a team of three 6-year-olds: Conor (aka Catboy), Amaya (aka Owlette) and Greg (aka Gekko). They are normal kids by day, superheroes fighting crime by night. The series, which is based on the Les Pyjamasques book series by Romuald Racioppo, has been renewed for a sixth season. (Netflix)

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Peppa Pig

It’s an obvious choice – but the truth is, nothing is bigger than Peppa Pig. It first aired in May 2004 and there have now been seven seasons. Peppa is a pig who loves to jump in muddy puddles, and lives with her little brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. I had to take my daughter to the GP thinking something was wrong with her breathing, but it turned out she was copying Peppa’s loud snorts of laughter. (Amazon Prime and Netflix)

Ages 6-plus

Star Wars: The Bad Batch

For Star Wars fans and newcomer kids to the franchise, this animated series, which premiered last year, is a must watch. It’s a spin-off from the long-running animation Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which ran for seven seasons from 2008 until 2020, with more than 100 episodes. This new 2021 Disney Plus series is packed with fight scenes and set in the period between the films Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Dee Bradley Baker stars as the Bad Batch, a squad of elite clone troopers with genetic mutations. (Disney +)

Malory Towers

I read the Enid Blyton books about the all-girls boarding school avidly. Now it’s possible to binge-watch it on TV. It first aired on CBBC in 2020; now there are two series with a total of 28 episodes for kids to get their teeth into – and a third series on its way. It follows the hot-tempered Darrell Rivers as she progresses through the various school years against a backdrop of lacrosse, midnight feasts, and enduring friendships. (BBC iPlayer)

We Bare Bears

This animated sitcom from Cartoon Network follows three bear brothers, Grizzly (aka Grizz), Panda (Pan-Pan) and Ice Bear, as they try to fit into the human world. The show premiered in 2015 and ended in 2019 after a whopping 140 episodes. A new spin-off series, We Baby Bears, premiered its first 10 episodes in a marathon on New Year’s Day 2020 in the US. It follows the three bears as cubs searching for a new home in a magical teleporting box. A UK release date is yet to be announced. (BBC iPlayer)

Boss Baby: Back in Business

This Netflix original TV series is based on the 2017 hit film about a fast-talking, briefcase-carrying newborn baby/executive who works for Baby Corps, but who acts like a normal baby when adults are around. TV’s Boss Baby is voiced by JP Karliak, replacing Alec Baldwin in the two films. In season four, which premiered in 2020, Boss Baby is rehired and promoted to CEO. He plans to get 100 per cent of the world’s love, but first, he must overcome a few enemies. (Netflix)

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My Mum Tracy Beaker

Dani Harmer reprises her role as Tracy Beaker, the former tearaway teen with a heart of gold who grew up in a children’s home and shouted “bog off” at anyone who annoyed her. But now, she’s a single mum living on a rundown London council estate with her 10-year-old daughter. Based on Jaqueline Wilson’s best-selling book series, the new series sees Tracy whisked off her feet by a millionaire footballer. It follows on from two hit CBBC series: The Story of Tracy Beaker, which began in 2002, and The Return of Tracy Beaker, 2010. (BBC iPlayer)

Anne with an “E”

This stylish Netflix adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, by Breaking Bad writer Moira Walley-Beckett, stars Amybeth McNulty as the 11-year-old Anne. The plucky orphan is sent by mistake to live with brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert – they had asked for a boy – on a farm in the fictional town of Avonlea in Prince Edward Island, Canada. It’s as good as the 1985 TV drama and faithful to the 1908 book. With three seasons, it’s highly binge-worthy. (Netflix)

Wolfboy and the Everything Factory

Apple TV’s brand new bright and colourful kids’ fantasy adventure show might be wacky, but it has a great message: embrace your weirdness. The creative young boy William Wolf searches for those who will accept his differences. When he discovers the magical Spryte realm of The Everything Factory and is renamed Wolfboy, he learns that his mind and creativity have the power to change the world. (Apple TV+)

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The Worst Witch

Based on Jill Murphy’s books, The Worst Witch sees Mildred Hubble gets accepted into Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches – a boarding school where student witches learn about their powers and navigate the complexities of pre-teen life. Mildred is considered the worst student in the whole school due to a lot of mishaps with magic. With four seasons containing 13 episodes each, it’s a certain winner. (BBC iPlayer)

FAQs

What children's shows are overstimulating? ›

Cocomelon, along with many other popular infant/ toddler shows such as Little Baby Bum, Blippi, and Baby Einstein, are so overstimulating that they actually act as a drug, a stimulant. These types of shows are carefully designed to hold a young child's attention, and they are very successful in doing so.

What is the most watched TV show for kids? ›

SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon, USA; 1999–present) was the most popular children's TV show in the world in 2021-22, according to data science firm Parrot Analytics, with a global demand rating 47.2 times greater than that of the average TV show.

What is the best show for 10 year olds? ›

Best Tween TV Shows
  • Odd Squad. age 5+ Lively mixed-media series solves mysteries with math skills. ...
  • Just Kidding. age 6+ ...
  • Little Lunch. age 6+ ...
  • The Loud House. age 8+ ...
  • Milo Murphy's Law. age 6+ ...
  • 100 Things to Do Before High School. age 7+ ...
  • Brainchild. age 7+ ...
  • Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street. age 7+

Is Cocomelon too overstimulating? ›

While she doesn't claim to be a children's media expert, she does use her professional experience to rate kids' TV shows and notify parents of the potential social and emotional effects they may have on kids. Cocomelon is highly overstimulating and likely to result in behavioral and attention disorders.

Should I let my kid watch Cocomelon? ›

Some experts think that viewing “Cocomelon” is absolutely fine for young children. Nicole Beurkens, a psychologist in Grand Rapids, finds “Cocomelon” stimulating, but not overwhelming.

What show is better than CoComelon? ›

Classical Baby (HBO Max)

Winner of multiple accolades, including a Peabody Award and four Emmys, Classical Baby is a far more relaxed alternative to CoComelon, and helps introduce young children to classic musical arrangements by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and other classical composers.

Do kids shows Cause ADHD? ›

This myth hit the media in 2004 when a research group published a paper suggesting that toddlers who watched too much TV were at risk for attentional problems later in life. Fact: The study was wrong. television, but rest assured that, if they do, it will not cause ADHD.

What does an overstimulated child look like? ›

Babies and children can get overstimulated when they're around too much noise or activity. Overstimulated babies and children might cry or get cranky. Toddlers might have tantrums. Help children deal with overstimulation by reducing noise and activity or setting up a quiet activity.

What TV Shows Should 11 year olds watch? ›

Amazon Prime
  • The Adventures of Tintin.
  • American Ninja Warrior.
  • Annedroids.
  • Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street.
  • Little House on the Prairie.
  • Little Women.
  • Odd Squad.
  • The Partridge Family.
27 Sept 2022

How old is a tween? ›

The "tween years" can be challenging for both children and their parents. Young adolescents are continuing to explore their community and world and beginning to develop unique identities separate from their parents.

How much TV is OK for a 9 year old? ›

Although some screen time can be educational, it's easy to go overboard, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children's screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.

Does CoComelon cause speech delay? ›

If you've had a child in the past few years, you'll know all about CoComelon, and just how popular it is with the toddler set. But there are some mums who claim this innocent kids' show is triggering tantrums and delaying speech in its target audience.

Why are some parents against CoComelon? ›

“Cocomelon is so awful for children. It's over stimulating which can delay a lot of developmental milestones," one mum claimed. Another mum shared on Reddit that her little one was so addicted to CoComelon, she would tantrum to the point of harming herself when she wasn't allowed to watch it.

Did Netflix get rid of CoComelon? ›

There are 5 seasons of CoComelon on Netflix as of August 2022, although a sixth season will be released in September 2022. Netflix has the global rights to CoComelon and every region receives new seasons together.

What should my child watch instead of CoComelon? ›

Jools TV. An animation series "for the kids, and for the culture," Jools TV's three-minute episodes teach all kinds of life lessons, often guided by guardian angel J.J. The channel was created by parents and features the animated adventures of the "J" brothers: J.J., Jaxon, Jett, and Jhy.

At what age does ADHD begin to manifest itself? ›

ADHD symptoms start before age 12, and in some children, they're noticeable as early as 3 years of age. ADHD symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe, and they may continue into adulthood. ADHD occurs more often in males than in females, and behaviors can be different in boys and girls.

Is ADHD developed or inherited? ›

ADHD tends to run in families and, in most cases, it's thought the genes you inherit from your parents are a significant factor in developing the condition. Research shows that parents and siblings of someone with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD themselves.

How long should a 5 year old sit still? ›

At age 5, kids can usually sit still for about 15 minutes. As they get older, kids can typically sit still for longer periods. Anxiety, excitement, and trouble with focus can make it hard to sit still.

How do you calm an overtired child? ›

Talk quietly, reassure your child i.e. `it is time for sleep', to encourage a state of calm and position them on their back in the cot/bed awake. If they still don't respond pick your child up and cuddle them until they are calm, give them a cup of water then try staying in the room until they fall asleep.

What is overstimulated in ADHD? ›

Overstimulation is a state of feeling overwhelmed by the situation you are in. This might take the form of physical or emotional discomfort and feeling like your brain is frozen or you're unable to think or process anything that's happening.

What is overstimulated mother? ›

Do you ever feel yourself snapping at your kids or partner when you're not even angry, you're just overwhelmed. That's called overstimulation and it happens when your brain has 50 tabs open and trying to move back and forth is both frustrating and overwhelming.

What is the latest craze for kids 2022? ›

5 Kids' Trends Sweeping the Playgrounds in 2022
  1. TikTok Dances. For those who still aren't 100% sure, TikTok is basically a social media platform where you can share short videos with your followers. ...
  2. Pokemon Cards. ...
  3. K-Pop. ...
  4. Football Stickers. ...
  5. LEGO Minifigures.

What is the best movie on Netflix 2022 for kids? ›

Feel-good Movies
  • An Elf's Story: The Elf on the Shelf.
  • Charlotte's Web.
  • Elf Pets: A Fox Cub's Christmas Tale.
  • Dog Gone Trouble.
  • Dennis the Menace.
  • Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle.
  • Pinkfong & Baby Shark's Space Adventure.
  • Trolls Holiday Special.

What 13 year olds should watch on Netflix? ›

TV for Teens
  • Stranger Things.
  • Wednesday.
  • Gilmore Girls.
  • 13 Reasons Why.
  • Elite.
  • Riverdale.
  • All American.
  • Outer Banks.

Is 12 Year Old appropriate? ›

Great film, but not for kids under 13

It's very gory and contains adult language.

Is the 100 kid appropriate? ›

Parents need to know that The 100 has a lot of graphic violence and death, often at the hands of a group of teens who hash out power through beatings, torture, and weapon use.

Is the end of the F World appropriate for 14 year olds? ›

18+ only, nothing less. Once again, crimes against humanity committed. Many gross scenes. No role models.

Is 12 a tween? ›

Kids between 8 and 12 are called “tweens” because they are in between children and teenagers. It's very normal for kids this age to start to move from being very close to parents to wanting to be more independent. But they still need a lot of help from their parents. Kids this age go through big physical changes.

Is on my block inappropriate? ›

“On My Block,” according to Netflix, “may be unsuitable for children ages 14 and under,” which means that the characters it tracks are barely old enough to watch it.

Is TV PG appropriate for 10 year olds? ›

N.A. Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.

Is Stranger thing ok for 10 year olds? ›

Seasons 1-3 of Stranger Things are pretty evenly violent and scary and are rated TV-14. However, Stranger Things 4 is a whole different level and has a TV-MA rating. Well it was rated TV-MA and then recently changed to TV-14, however, it deserves that TV-MA rating. Stranger Things 4 is not for kids.

Is Stranger thing ok for a 11 year old? ›

Stranger Things is rated TV-14.

Overall, the nonprofit notes it's best for kids 13 and older.

How old should a kid be to get a phone? ›

What is the ideal age for a first phone? Your children could be ready for a smartphone or similar device anywhere from 10 to 14, or during middle school. A sixth-grader (typically 10 to 11 years old) could be a good start for considering a phone or a wearable.

What is a 7 year old called? ›

Middle Childhood (6-8 years of age)

Do tweens still exist? ›

The pre-teen (sometimes called the cheekier ​“tween”) adolescent phase starts at age nine and goes until 12. This small sliver of time between childhood and teenage life, typically when puberty starts, warrants its own demographic.

What time should 12 year olds go to bed? ›

At these ages, with social, school, and family activities, bedtimes gradually become later and later, with most 12-years-olds going to bed at about 9 p.m. There is still a wide range of bedtimes, from 7:30 to 10 p.m., as well as total sleep times, from 9 to 12 hours, although the average is only about 9 hours.

What time should an 11 year old go to bed? ›

Sleep: what children need

At 5-11 years, children need 9-11 hours sleep a night. For example, if your child wakes for school at 7 am and needs approximately 10 hours sleep per night, your child should be in bed before 9 pm.

What time should a 13 year old go to bed? ›

The topic of young children's bedtimes is “very badly” researched, he says. That said: “9pm is a sensible approach.” For teenagers, Kelley says that, generally speaking, 13- to 16-year-olds should be in bed by 11.30pm.

Why is Cocomelon overstimulating for kids? ›

"Cocomelon is so hyper-stimulating that it actually acts as a drug, as a stimulant," she says. "The brain gets a hit of dopamine from screen-time and it seems that the stronger the 'drug,' aka the level of stimulation a show delivers, the stronger the 'hit.

What can I watch instead of Cocomelon? ›

Children's television program “Bluey” has become a great influence on children, giving them an example of a supportive and functional family environment. The national sensation with three seasons that was created in 2018 named “Bluey” is a perfect alternative to “Cocomelon”.

Can TV cause overstimulation? ›

How much screen time is too much for kids? Long before addiction sets in, a child's sensitive nervous system can become overstimulated and hyperaroused from moderate but regular amounts of screen time.

Are kids overstimulated from too much screen-time? ›

Kids can become overstimulated from screen time without realizing it, which can result in moodiness, increased anxiety, higher levels of irritability, and poor behavior. These symptoms could affect every aspect of the child's life, including academic performance and social interactions.

Did they take CoComelon off Netflix? ›

There are 5 seasons of CoComelon on Netflix as of August 2022, although a sixth season will be released in September 2022. Netflix has the global rights to CoComelon and every region receives new seasons together. Learn and Play with J.J.

Is Bluey OK for kids? ›

For kids, Bluey is a great show about the joy and heartbreak of childhood. In 125 eight-minute episodes across three seasons, Bluey and Bingo, two sweet little dogs, play and go to school and cause trouble. The games they invent and the lessons they learn are easily portable to kids at home.

What is better for kids than CoComelon? ›

Winner of multiple accolades, including a Peabody Award and four Emmys, Classical Baby is a far more relaxed alternative to CoComelon, and helps introduce young children to classic musical arrangements by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and other classical composers.

Is CoComelon addictive? ›

Child-development experts say CoComelon is no more problematic than most other children's TV shows. “It's not that CoComelon is addictive,” says Susan Linn, the author of Consuming Kids.

Should children with ADHD watch TV? ›

The ADHD-TV Controversy

More specifically, for each extra hour per day of TV time, the risk of concentration difficulties increases by 10 percent, compared with that of a child who views no TV at all. Excessive viewing was associated with a 28 percent increase in attention problems.

What is iPad syndrome? ›

"iPad neck," sometimes called "tablet neck," is usually associated with sitting without back support, such as on a bench or on the ground, or slumping over the tablet while it rests in the user's lap. Other postures significantly associated with pain included using tablets while lying on the side or back.

What age should kids have an iPad? ›

Wait Until an Appropriate Age

The best time to introduce a child to a tablet is when they are at least 2 years old. Children aged 2 or older can benefit from the educational aspect of tablets, without hindering their social development.

What causes emotional problems in kids? ›

school problems (relationships or learning problems) that are creating additional stress; experimenting with drug use or alcohol for an adolescent or older teen; or. changes in the family (divorce, new child, death) that may cause concern for the child.

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