5 March 2013, by Mandy Loh

The Magic of Elmo

I just wanted to dedicate a blog entry to Cristan’s favourite character of all-time: Elmo of Sesame Street.

Cristan's hero!

What sort of strange magic has this furry, red monster cast over our little ones? Its almost scary how much influence Elmo has! (I’ve been told by other moms that their kids are just as mersmerised by this adorable creature too.) Despite Cristan’s rather limited vocabulary, he is able to call out Elmo’s name, loud and clear!

Thankfully, Elmo is a great role model, and the good people of Sesame Street have made lots of music videos of Elmo teaching tots wonderful stuff from manners, life skills and even basic hygiene! Let me give you a few examples of how Elmo has been invaluable in our daily lives!

1) The Teeth Brushing Battle

Cristan started resisting the ritual of brushing his teeth a couple of months back, probably because of teething pain. No amount of coaxing, tricks, or even threats could get him to open his mouth. And if I forced the toothbrush into his mouth, Cristan would throw a huge fit, setting back the nightly bedtime routine because he would become so wound up.

This was our nightly battle, until Tim found an Elmo music video about brushing teeth!

Right after watching the video, Cristan actually motioned for his toothbrush! And nowadays, he would quietly sit and allow me to brush his teeth thoroughly while the video is playing! Well ok, perhaps we are cultivating a bad habit here, but for now, this is definitely preferable to having to deal with tooth decay!

2) A bribe for good behaviour

Even though we’ve started letting Cristan watch videos at around 18 months old, the amount of screen time he’s allowed per day is still quite controlled. This makes videos a highly effective bribe to get him to behave well. For instance, to reward him for being a good boy during dinner, we would let him watch a couple of short Elmo videos after he’s done. Mind you, it has to be ELMO videos. Most other videos just would not cut it. There have been times when I would show him some other cartoons, and he would complain midway, demanding for Elmo instead!

Conversely, if Cristan behaved particularly badly during dinner, we would threaten to take away his video privilege. We would give him lots of warnings, and plenty of second chances, before the final ultimatum is issued. Most of the time, it has been quite successful in turning his behaviour around, and threats of “no Elmo” has proven to be quite an effective discipline tool, to be honest!

3) Elmo says vs Momma says

Elmo is able to persuade Cristan to do things, even after Momma and Dadda have failed to convince him. As I had blogged about previously, the most striking example was how he was willing to wear his CNY outfit only after his Elmo soft toy had modelled it! (Read more about that incident here)

There have been times that I would mimic Elmo’s voice and start talking to Cristan through the Elmo soft toy, so that he would be more receptive to what I was asking him to do. Silly but effective, and hey, whatever works, right?

At the end of the day, I’m glad that Cristan’s such a fan of Elmo, because at least he’s learning good values, as well as his ABCs and 123s. Sadly, there will come a day when we can no longer shield Cristan from the dubious influences of the world, and I just hope that in future, he will still be able to find good role models to look up to.

Psst…Sesame Street, could you create an Elmo for teenagers please?

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Posted on : March 5, 2013

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