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20 of the Least Annoying TV Shows for Kids

By julieminer |

My 3 kids range in age from preschooler to nearly tween (3 and half to almost 9). And I’ve found that there’s almost nothing that we can watch together as a family that isn’t annoying, obnoxious or a catalyst to start at least one of them whining.

The shows that appeal to my oldest are ones like iCarly, Victorious and Shake it Up. These shows, aimed at tween girls, aren’t my thing. I have friends who love them and do things like listen to Big Time Rush in the car even when they’re alone  – and then claim it was an accident.  But at the moment, those shows aren’t a good fit for me and my kids.

The ones that appeal to my middle dude (age 6) are things like Power Rangers, Lego Ninjago and Kickin’ It. Notice a theme? He needs to watch less of programs that make him want to roundhouse or beg me for merchandise. And my preschooler is Dora-obsessed. That has to end now.

So I turned to the 28,000+ fabulous and brilliant moms who read Rants from Mommyland and asked them (via Facebook) what shows they thought were great for kids bigger than toddlers and younger than tweens. We got hundreds of comments, which I then tallied up. I also checked with Common Sense Media to see if there were parent or editor recommendations of shows I hadn’t seen or thought of.

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Least Annoying TV Shows for Kids


(Discovery Channel) I never would have thought about this show, but was the 2nd most recommended program. It blends science, urban legends and witty hosts, and it’s something the both boys and girls can enjoy. It's also highly recommended by Common Sense Media, but for older kids.

No one knows your kids better than you, so hopefully it follows that you’re the best judge of whether these shows are a good fit for your family. Which ones do your kids like the best?

Read more from Julie at her blog Rants from MommyLand. Follow Julie on Facebook and Twitter for additional goofy nonsense at no extra charge. You can catch up on her posts for Strollerderby, too – where she is often slightly less stupid.

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About julieminer



Julie W. Miner writes the blog Rants from Mommyland. She has three kids, a long-suffering husband, a very naughty dog and a geriatric, ill-tempered cat. In addition to blogging, she teaches at a college she couldn’t have gotten into because she made bad choices in high school. Read bio and latest posts → Read Julie's latest posts →

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29 thoughts on “20 of the Least Annoying TV Shows for Kids

  1. carmen says:

    meh. Several of those shows are more annoying around here. Avatar and Lab rats? Ugh.

    Mike the knight and Team umizoomi are much better.

  2. Ashley Taylor says:

    Love Good Luck Charlie, mostly because it is so refreshing to see a mom on TV actually portrayed as real and normal!

  3. Emily says:

    My son is 5, and he absolutely ADORES How It’s Made, and it’s lesser known counterparts, How Do They Do It? and Factory Made. When they have marathons of these on the Science channel, he will sit for hours and watch. And I let him. Because it’s educational. And, Mommy may or may not need a “sanity day.”

  4. Sara says:

    If Captain Huggyface is your thing, might I suggest Bruno & the Banana Bunch on Netflix? Though it’s definitely geared toward the younger ones, it’s very reminiscent of Word Girl – my kids love it!!

  5. Shannon says:

    My sister got nightmares from Scooby Doo, so it was banned when I was a child. Why did she get nightmares? Because the ghosts turned out to be real people and that was really scary to her. Now as a mom, I’m afraid to let my 3 & 6 year olds watch it!

  6. Vickie says:

    My grandkids love watching Signing Time on PBS. If you’ve never seen Signing Time, you owe it to yourself and your kids to check it out at Fun, educational, very entertaining, and adults can learn American Sign Language along with their kids.

  7. Dierdre says:

    The Mythbusters is a fav. in our house. They also host Punkin Chunkin once a year around Thanksgiving. It is a lot of fun! Adults and kids design machines to fling pumpkins as far as they can. We watch it every year now.

  8. Amy says:

    Great list! My son loves Scooby Doo and I find even the old one hold up pretty well. I’m totally going to check out some of the shows I hadn’t heard of. Thanks!

  9. BlackOrchid says:

    Are you guys even allowed to be critical of Disney/Nick shows nowadays?

    Anyway, these are mostly not popular with my kids – except for Phineas&Ferb of course, and the wonderful Fetch, which sadly was cancelled.

    I’d like to recommend “Penn and Teller Tell a Lie” – it’s clean (safe for kids language-wise) plus surprisingly informative and fun!

    Hit Netflix for the animated Mr Bean series – VERY popular with my younger son! Sweet little cartoons.

  10. Manjari says:

    My kids love Phineas and Ferb now. I thought it was annoying at first, but now I love it. And I know the voice of Baljeet! My kids also like Word Girl and Umizoomi. And there’s some strange show on Netflix they like, called Fishtronaut.

  11. bob says:

    Thanks for the Disney heads-up, Blackorchid.
    Also, don’t miss Dinosaur Train (PBS Kids).

  12. MB says:

    Shannon’s comment is funny to me – Scooby Doo has helped my preschooler stop being afraid of Halloween-type things, because at the end of Scooby Doo it’s always a regular person who is just pretending to be a ghost, werewolf, etc. He had a lot of issues around Halloween with the scarier costumes and “haunted” activities, and Scooby Doo helped him get the idea of it all being pretend.
    Shaun the Sheep is great because it is short! It is a good compromise when my son wants TV but I don’t want him to get sucked into a half hour of something. We can watch “a Shaun” and then turn the TV off.

  13. Andrea says:

    My son (4) is big into Dino Dan these days. And I like it, too. Not objectionable in any way and Dan is totally nuts about dinosaurs and a bit dorky about it but all this is totally treated as cool. And it is Canadian…love those Canadians.

  14. Megan says:

    We watch Baby TV (a channel that broadcasts baby/kid friendly programming 24/7) in our house. Of course, my son is only 22 months old, so he’s not really ready for most of the shows on your list. But Baby TV is awesome for younger kids, and not nearly as annoying as Sprout, or even Sesame Street. Plus, there are very few real people on there (they have puppets, claymation, and animation, mostly), but if there are real people on any show, they’re kids. I like that there aren’t a bunch of adults on there. It’s a lot easier for my son to relate to the kids on the show than to a bunch of adults dancing around with puppets.

  15. Misty says:

    Love Phineas and Ferb and all the Discovery shows. My 9 year old also loves “Cash Cab” from the dame channel. However, Scooby gets on my nerves the way Dora and Diego do. Especially when my son starts talking like him. Then I become the Mommy Monster and it’s ON.

  16. teagansmomma says:

    Yeah…we don’t watch Dora at our house…it’s just too annoying. I can’t stand the crybaby koala on Ni Hao, Kai-Lan. I absolutely hate Max and Ruby. Where are their parents? If Ruby ever listened to Max, the show would be about 2 minutes long!

    I do, however, love watching the Backyardigans, Little Einsteins, and Jake & the Neverland Pirates. Backyardigans have singing and dancing (each episode has different themed music), Little Einsteins has classical music and art, Jake & the Neverland Pirates has problem solving.

    Bubble Guppies and Yo Gabba Gabba are also big at our house!

  17. Megan says:

    My two year old daughters favorite show is bubble Guppies. It’s educational, funny and full of music. We all love the show and record it on out tevo.

  18. Lisa S. says:

    I like Little Bear and Franklin for little kids. Not psychadelic and flashy and ADD-inducing… nice and mellow and sweet. :)

  19. Kaite says:

    I’m shocked that there was no mention of Bubble Guppies! That one is certainly a favorite in our house. My nephew has.been entranced by it since he was five months old, and the three year-old lives it! We love it too, and find ourselves watching when there are no children to be found. Shockingly educational, and they have some cute, short, catchy songs (which my 17 month-old nephew loves to dance to)!

  20. Stefanie says:

    How is Cupcake Wars and Bizarre foods and some of the other shows for kids? Some of the things you put on here are TV channels, not TV shows. A bunch of the shows are annoying. Mythbusters? Really?

  21. Jennifer says:

    My 2 1/2 year old son is crazy about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Special Agent Oso, Team Umizoomi, Oobi, and Yo Gabba Gabba. I cannot get him interested in Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Word World, or any of those other shows.

  22. Sara says:

    Too many of the shows geared toward kids on Disney and Nickelodeon these days teach them how to be rude and disrespectful toward adults. I miss the days of family oriented TV things like the TGIF lineup. In general I’m personally not a fan of the reality type tv shows. Dancing with the Stars is probably my one guilty pleasure in the genre. Unfortunately these days TV is more a baby sitter than a family adventure and from what I’ve seen, too many parents aren’t very particular about what their kids watch as long as they’re quiet.

    We recently gave up on cable and have started buying or renting series on DVD. A
    favorite in my house? Psych. It’s ridiculous and just a fun time for everybody. The physical comedy is what entertains the younger audiences and the adults catch the stuff that generally goes over kids heads.

  23. Joanne says:

    Isn’t AMERICAN IDOL on too late? I like PHINEAS & FERB, WORD GIRL and WILD KRATTS – I would also add a few more PBS Kids shows like ARTHUR which teaches kids about civics and is entertaining for adults too, MARTHA SPEAKS because its so darn cute and also teaches words, THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS ALOT ABOUT THAT because even I learned a few things and DINOSAUR TRAIN which is funny because when I was a little girl I had no interest in dinos. My 3 year old girl is very girly but LOVES Buddy, Shiny, Tiny & Don and she learns a lot form it too.

  24. Susan Sullivan says:

    Word World! It’s a beautiful world. Word World!

  25. Emily Champoux says:

    I’m an Avatard myself, and the whole family is sitting down together for the next installment, “The Legend of Korra”. Also, we love the new Doctor Who, found on Netflix streaming & BBC America.

  26. Melissa says:

    I can relate to your dilemma as mine range in age from 3 to 10. My mom bought the Full House series for my girls, but the little brother (adult) is always making out with women so we put a big nix on that. Scooby was a no because I’m just not into the ghost thing. My kids have really gotten into some of the older shows like Lost in Space, Batman/Robin, I Love Lucy, and even my 3-yo thinks they’re funny. I guess it doesn’t scare them because the costumes look exactly like that-costumes. I’m over my 7-yo wanting to watch Shake It Up with my 10-yo where the girls are going on a date. She’s in 1st grade! She’s got way more to deal with before we hit the dating scene!

  27. Felicia S says:

    In my house, watching Sid the Science Kid on PBS is a must. My 4 year old loves it! Along with Phineas and Ferb.

  28. Desan says:

    I’m still perturbed that PBS stopped airing reruns of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Why is this? I wrote letters to PBS (WQED) to please rerun Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and I was given very brief information why the episodes will no longer air.

    The unfortunate passing of Fred Rogers impacted the future of PBS ever airing Mister Rogers’ masterpieces ever again.

    I have a 25 year old son with autism who absolutely adores watching Mister Rogers. My son is at the level of an 8 year old. I have a few episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood on VHS. I recorded these for my son when he was a child.

    My son, Glaydan, still looks wide-eyed at the television, even though he’s a grown man with a child’s mind, when the Neighborhood Trolley enters the Neighborhood of Make Believe and out come the delightful characters. My son’s favorite characters are Lady Elaine Fairchilde, King Friday XIII and X the owl.

    My son loves the songs and music on Mister Rogers. He’s even able to play some of the songs he’s heard on Mister Rogers, on the piano, in our piano room.

    We need to get reruns of Mister Rogers Neighborhood back on the air. But where do we start?

    Do you think it would help if I wrote To our president, Barac Obama, and asked him to help get PBS to rerun Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

    Since PBS gets some funding from our government, I think it might be wise to write to our president for some help.

    I don;t know who else to try and contact so that there might be a possibility to reun Mister Rogers neighborhood again.

  29. Lauren says:

    My kid (and I) loooove Bubble Guppies. We never miss an episode, and lunch is our favorite part.

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