When my girls were little, they probably watched Rainbow Brite more than a hundred times. The theme song is still fried into my brain (“Rainbow Brite, Stars are shining bright …”). Even though TV time was limited in our house, it felt like Murky and Lurky, Starlite, Twink, and Rainbow Brite were my constant companions. I tried my best to get them interested in different shows, but every day their choice was exactly the same.
Although they are now in their 30’s, the girls still get nostalgic whenever they see Rainbow Brite merchandise. They remember the rainbow colored sprite as an important part of their childhood. A few years ago, my son even did hours of research until he found a DVD that contained all of the old episodes so that my eldest daughter could share the show with her own little girl.
My granddaughter was impressed for approximately five minutes. Her movies of choice are Barbie movies. For a long time, all she wanted to watch during her TV time was The Princess and the Pauper. We watched it with her so many times that we ALL knew the songs by heart (you haven’t lived until you’ve heard grown men singing Barbie songs).
Finally, she branched out to other movies … all starring Barbie. We watched Barbie as a mermaid, a fairy, a butterfly fairy, a fashion designer, a director, a ballerina … you get the idea. When it was movie time, I tried to offer her other movies. But her answer was always the same, “No, I want Bowbie!”
Her little brother is now in on the action. He has become infatuated with a movie about Barbie, her sisters, and some puppies. At two, he is already smart enough to realize that no one besides him is interested in Barbie and her puppies anymore. So, he runs into my house, climbs onto my lap and whispers, “Watch Barbie Puppies?” I don’t even try to convince him otherwise. He gets such joy out of watching it again and again. He knows all the puppies’ names. He laughs at all the same jokes and he knows when the bad guys are making an appearance (and hides behind my chair).
Experts explain that children like repetition because it allows them to see the world as predictable. By watching the same shows again and again, your child can predict what is coming next and it makes them feel secure. Since the world is mostly full of surprises and unknowns for little ones, it’s comforting for them to have something that stays the same.
Repetition also helps children master new skills. Young children tend to repeat things to cement them into their brains. By repeatedly watching the same programs, they are learning more than we think they are. They’re adding to their vocabularies (and learning some really annoying songs and catch-phrases too!).
So, while the rest of us run for the other room (and his older sister complains loudly) my grandson sits and watches “his” show AGAIN. And, I don’t mind a bit. If I can offer him a little peace and security in this crazy world, I am happy to oblige.