After torturing parents for more than two decades, Caillou has finally been canceled

After more than two decades of torturing parents and offering a horrible example for preschool-aged children, the era of Caillou has finally ended. The Canadian kids' show started in 1997, kept churning out new episodes until 2018, and now the will be taken off the air, finally.

As a huge fan and ardent defender of PBS—especially the network's generally excellent children's programming—it pains me to launch such a passionate criticism. But seriously, how on Al Gore's green Earth did this show last for this long?

My children were born during Caillou's early years. Having been raised myself on a steady diet of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, I felt confident that PBS Kids' shows would be healthy, educational entertainment for my own children as they entered the preschool phase, and for the most part, PBS delivered. In addition to the awesomeness of Sesame Street, my kids got to explore the alphabet through Martha Speaks, dive into scientific questions with Sid the Science Kid, and build reading skills and curiosity with Super Why. My kids loved learning while being entertained, and I loved that they were learning while being entertained.

Then there was Caillou. I'm not sure if I have the words for my depth of loathing for that character, and I'm someone who loves all (real) children. I'm not the only one who feels this way. For years, Caillou has been a running joke in the parenting world, regularly taking first place in the "Most Annoying Kids' Show" category. Social media erupted in virtual celebration at the news of its demise.


Check out these moms sharing their undying hatred for Caillou:

Moms Share Their Undying Hatred For Caillou youtu.be

The agony is real. The first time I watched an episode of Caillou, I was gobsmacked by how whiny, bratty, and tantrummy he was. He's four, which is a challenging age for sure. But in my opinion, all Caillou did for parents of young kids was make those years even more challenging.

First of all, the whining was absolutely incessant. And his voice made it worse. Like, I don't know how any parent could sit through an entire episode of Caillou "Waaaaahhh"ing without wanting to poke their ears out with a crochet hook.

Secondly, his behavior was atrocious half the time. The episode where he pinched his baby sister in her crib until she cried? That's not an idea I'd wanted to plant in my preschooler's head. The way he talked to other kids? Ugh. Just no.

And therein lies the major problem with Caillou. Preschool-aged kids imitate what they see. That's the developmental stage they are in. As a parent, I watched every kids' show through the lens of "Is this how I want my child to behave?" and when it came to Caillou, the answer to that question was "LORDY NO" nine times out of ten.

But honestly, the adults in the show were almost as bad. It would be one thing if the storylines showed parents helping kids how to work through their feelings or problem solve, but Caillou's mom was bafflingly hands-off. It seemed like there was never any real resolution to the issues, and preschool-aged kids don't have the capability of processing a character's emotional story arc to take a moral from the end anyway. Older kids, yes. But the age of kids who actually enjoy Caillou? Nope.

Check out these few clips and see if this is what you'd want your young child imitating:

Caillou Being a Brat Comp. www.youtube.com


I literally didn't allow my kids to watch Caillou because he was such whiny little douche nozzle, his parents were mostly useless, and I didn't feel like making parenting any harder than it needed to be.

(For the record, my 20-year-old has thanked me for banning Caillou from our house. She agrees that he would have served as a terrible example to follow and can't stand to hear his voice either.)

Goodbye and good riddance, Caillou.

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Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

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“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

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Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

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It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

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“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

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Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

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That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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