Pair your entertainment with some life lessons and make the most of your television viewing with your kids.

Settling down on the couch with the remote between you and your pre-teen is a perfect time to reinforce some life lessons you may not have discussed with them before. Seize the opportunities provided by television shows to start a dialogue with your kids where you discuss the life lessons that are lurking underneath the entertainment surface. Of course, it is crucial that you are sharing age appropriate shows with them, so pay attention to the ratings, which are usually listed in the descriptions of each episode. You do not want to be sharing too much with them when it comes to television shows that may end up scaring them more than teaching them.

Singing or Talent Competition Shows

While you can be awed and impressed with the vocals of contestants on shows like The Voice or American Idol, there are also lessons to learn and share with your pre-teens via these shows. The reality of these shows is that one person ends up the winner, whether you voted for them or not. Someone ending up on top means they win the contest, but what about the other people who did not make it to the “finals”? Sit down with your kids at the computer and search out the last season’s runners up to your favorite shows. Show them what the contestant has achieved, experienced and earned since the show aired. Explain that this means that you do not have to come in first to have success and happiness. In fact, coming in first may mean more work or negative experiences with the business they are thrust into with little help from the outside.

Finding former contestants that did not hit it big and still had their normal life to deal with after the show is another way to teach your children about the realities of life. Just because you get your 15 minutes of fame does not mean that you will continue with it, or have your life magically changed. For those pre-teens who are obsessed with celebrities and their charmed lives this lesson can be one of the most important ones you can ever teach.

Reality-Based Crime Shows with Appropriate Ratings

Cable television provides a plethora of options when it comes to crime television. Channels like Investigation Discovery or I.D. offer tons of shows based on real-life crimes. These shows have a range of television ratings so do your homework before you decide to share any of the shows with your children.

After you do your homework, you may find that there are some shows like I (Almost) Got Away With It that can be suitable for sharing with your pre-teens or teenagers. A show like this one has plenty to talk about with your kids because it covers the stories of people who have committed crimes, then escaped either before prosecution, from prison, or both. The best lesson to share with your kids is the ending of these shows, because the person who committed the crime is always back in prison. Because the story shown on each episode is about not quite getting away with it, the criminals always have to pay the consequences. Even if your kids are well-behaved, the moral of this show is that even if you can avoid the consequences of your actions for a little while, you will always have to answer for your actions eventually. This type of lesson is a good one to discuss with your child after the show, explaining that it applies to many types of things, from trying to sneak out after curfew to stealing a car. By teaching your children that they will always be responsible for their actions, they may think twice before doing something that is unwise.