Usually when the kids are watching TV I am frantically running around trying to get things done (or hiding in the chocolate eating biscuits on the sly – it’s about 50/50) but sometimes it catches my eye. With screen time being a firm favourite in our house I really appreciate programs where my children have the ability to learn and grow from what they’re watching.
Hearing a little voice pipe up about something they saw, and then applying it to their current situation, is the dream in this house. Piglet first showed an interest in Love Monster a little while ago, and more recently JJ has followed suit. With 2 years between them it is quite rare at the moment that they both want to watch the same shows, but when the Love Monster theme comes on they are both silent as they take it in. But what is it and why is Love Monster so great?
What Is Love Monster?
Love Monster is a TV show on CBeebies. It centres around Love Monster who lives in Fluffytown with his friends. Fluffytown is exactly as it sounds – a place full of fluffy characters and unicorns and all things perfectly charming. It has a central green, which of course is heart shaped, where the characters love to congregate.
Fluffytown is is kept in check by Elder Kitten, Elder Panda and Elder Mouse, the oldest, wisest and most respected people in town. The town has all the necessities covered, with Dr G Piggles on hand if you’re unwell or Delivery Duckling to bring you your mail.
So Where Does Love Monster Fit In?
Just outside the town, up the hill and with a perfect view of everything that’s happening lives Love Monster. At first glance he doesn’t appear to naturally fit in with what you would expect in Fluffytown, but that is exactly why it is so great. His friends don’t care that he isn’t outwardly fluffy, they love him for the kind and caring monster that he is. His differences don’t matter to them, and the inclusive behaviour is exactly what I want to encourage in my children.
Love Monster may not speak lots, but he does quietly think about everything that’s going on. He often confides in his best friend, Tiniest Fluffy Bunny, and she is able to help him when he’s feeling anxious. Together they find ways to be brave, find new ways to tackle situations and embrace differences.
Enjoying Love Monster Away From Screens
As much as I love the peace that screen time gives me, it is just as important to me that my kids spend time away from them. Luckily there are lots of Love Monster activities that can be done for screen free fun.
JJ is the little bookworm in our family and can often be found flicking through his picture books during the day, but Piglet is the one who sits quietly for stories at bedtime. I love that he is now able to sit still and listen to the story, ask questions and engage.
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We have 2 Love Monster books. The first is simply called Love Monster and it tells the tale of his search for love. It is a really sweet story, not too long and perfect for bedtime, but open ended enough that it can spark some interesting conversations.
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Our second book is Love Monster & The Perfect Present. It tells of Love Monster’s search for the perfect gift for someone he cares about. He doesn’t have enough money and is worried about what to do, but soon realises that he can make the perfect present – but the best things are often free. I love that it encourages thoughtfulness and giving, and I often tell my kids that homemade gifts are always the best.
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Plant A Seed
Piggie loved the Plant A Seed Day episode of Love Monster, and so it was only natural that he would have to have a turn too. It was really easy to create at home with a little plant pot, some paint sticks to decorate it with, cotton wool and cress seeds.
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Piglet was a little disappointed that he didn’t have hot chocolate seeds like Love Monster, but he conceded the cress would be fun too (plus I am not at all green fingered so it needed to be easy!). Our little pot is sat on the windowsill waiting for the sun to help them on their way. Piglet has sung to them, talked to them and checked in on them. Fingers crossed he gets a good result soon!
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Crafts And Role Play
JJ doesn’t quite have the understanding for growing things yet, but that doesn’t mean he had to be left out. He has coloured in a Love Monster mask, which we cut out and put on a lolly stick so he could pretend to be Love Monster….. until his brother stole it.
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My boys love role play and so acting out episodes of any program is a common occurrence. Adding masks, colouring sheets and more means the kids can have some screen free fun which I grab a much needed seat.
Why Is Love Monster Useful In Child Development?
One of the skills I was keen to teach my children fairly early on was how to identify and label their feelings. They both have been slow to talk which can result in frustration, but by being able to identify and communicate their emotions to me in some way I can try to help and dissipate a situation before it gets out of hand.
Leah Brennan is a chartered clinical psychologist from Mindscape Psychology, and she has highlighted how Love Monster helps children get to grips with feelings. Love Monster doesn’t always get things right at first, and can experience a range of feelings as he works out what to do. This demonstrates to children that feelings are normal, and that we all have them.
Communicating with children as they watch the series and asking questions such as “He looks a bit worried about trying carrots doesn’t he?” or “Love monster is finding it hard to wait. He looks a bit impatient” helps the children identify the correct feeling in any given situation. They can then take these skills away from the TV and apply them at home or at nursery and school where their social skills really come in to play.
Learning Coping Skills
The opening credits have the lyrics:
Sometimes everything goes right, sometimes everything goes wrong. Life is made of ups and downs, doesn’t matter just sing this song.
I love those 2 little sentences. I want to teach my children resilience and how to cope in any given situation. We don’t live in a world where everything will always go the way we want it too, and how we manage those situations is so important. Sometimes these changes can make us as adults feel anxious, and those feelings in a child can seem like the end of the world.
Love Monster has his own way of coping with situations and calming down enough to work out what to do next. My favourite is “fluffing out” which he is taught by Elder Kitten, which is similar to a technique we use at home which we call square breathing. It’s all about taking a deep breath and slowing down before reacting or coming up with a plan.
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