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Once your child reaches school age, he may not show obvious signs of being upset by something he's watching, so you may want to elicit his reactions by asking questions, like "What did you think about the fact that George went into the cave alone?" or "How did you feel when Mufasa died?" In fact, some families make a point of having a discussion after each program they watch together.
If your child tells you he's scared, it's important to talk it out and find out what upset him. And don't let him do all the talking; when he shares his feelings, share yours. For example, you might say, "I saw a movie last week that I really didn't like, either." When your remarks validate his feelings, he's more likely to open up to you in the future. Keep his comments fresh in your mind the next time you screen a TV program or venture into the video store.
Of course, it's important to watch the show yourself first if you're concerned about the content. If what you witness is remotely violent or scary to you, realize that your child will almost certainly find it upsetting as well, and may have nightmares as a result. Once you're satisfied that the content is suitable, it's still a good idea to watch the show with him.
It's also helpful to remember that hearing a story allows your child to picture the images and deal with the content himself. By contrast, images and content in videos and movies are imposed and therefore more difficult to cope with if the material contains scary elements.