Life Lessons Kids Can Learn From Watching SpongeBob SquarePants
Before I ever had children I was adamant that they would not be allowed to watch SpongeBob SquarePants. I had listened to countless tales from co-workers about the little yellow sponge who resided in the underwater world of Bikini Bottom. I’ll never forget the day my friend got a call from her son’s teacher because he was talking about P.O.O.P. in class. The teacher was appalled, but in reality he was referring to the acronym for the Krusty Krab motto, People Order Our Patties. Her P.O.O.P. story, in and of itself, was enough to make me anti-SpongeBob.
My daughter asked me countless times to watch the series, and I always replied with a firm no. Then one day, she was home from preschool with a cold. She asked to lie in my bed and watch tv. The television in my room didn’t have a DVR, so we were stuck watching *gasps dramatically* live tv. Unfortunately, the only thing that was on was that evil yellow sponge. She looked at me, face flushed with fever, snot running down her face, and pleaded in a raspy voice, “please Mommy, it will make me feel better.” I mean really? Who can say no to that? So, I snuggled up next to her and watched my first episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.
It wasn’t as bad as I imagined. Yes, the humor was sophomoric, SpongeBob’s laugh was annoying, and Patrick was a complete buffoon, but it really seemed pretty harmless to me. From that moment on, SpongeBob became a staple in our house.
Its been 5 years since I watched my first episode of SpongeBob, and let me just say, I‘ve watched more episodes than I care to admit. I realize SpongeBob is not typical educational television. You child will not learn their A, B, C’s by watching SpongeBob slave away tirelessly at the Krusty Krab. They won’t learn to identify colors and shapes by seeing Patrick and SpongeBob frolic through Jellyfish Fields. But there are some very important life lessons that they can pick up just by spending some quality time with that annoying square yellow sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea.
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Life Lessons SpongeBob Teaches
Never Give Up - Many of the episodes revolve around Mrs. Puff’s Boating School where SpongeBob attends in an attempt to get his boating license. Bless his little yellow heart, but he never passes the boating test. It doesn’t get him down though, he just brushes himself off and tries again. It goes along with the old adage, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That’s what SpongeBob does, he tries again, and again, and AGAIN…wearing a wide toothy grin with each attempt.
Friendships Are Important - SpongeBob surrounds himself with his friends. His two closest friends are a pink starfish named Patrick and a Texan Squirrel named Sandy. The dynamic of his friendships really does emulate real life. They play together, have fun together, share secrets, they fight, have disagreements, and as all good friends do, they always make up. Pretty amazing considering the time constraints of 11 minutes per episode.
There Are No Small Jobs - SpongeBob is a fry cook. Even in the underwater world of Bikini Bottom, it’s not a lucrative job. He loves his job very much though and is proud of his work. For him, making the best Krabby Patty possible equates to a great work of Picasso. What a great lesson to pass on to our children. Its not what you do, its how you do it that matters. Yes, as parents we all hope that our children grow up to do something important. We envision them becoming president, a doctor, a lawyer, a great novelist. But, if they didn’t would we love them any less? Would their life be of any less value? Absolutely Not!
Work Hard - Never has there been a cartoon character who has worked harder at his job then SpongeBob. His lowly job as a Fry Cook at the Krusty Krab is the world to SpongeBob. He prides himself on being on time for work, he does the best that he can each day, he never wants to disappoint his boss, and he helps his coworkers. I’m sure there are managers out there who watch SpongeBob with their kids and wish they had just one SpongeBob under their employment.
Be a Good Neighbor - Although SpongeBob’s next door neighbor Squidward cannot stand him, there have been many times where SpongeBob has helped him out. Ok, there have also been times when his attempts at being helpful were not so helpful. Yes, he stole the show at Squidward‘s talent show, he thwarted his attempts to sell his house, and he even has blown Squidward’s Easter Island house to smithereens. That doesn’t make him any less of a good neighbor though. SpongeBob helps Squidward to take pleasure in the little things in life, like blowing bubble and snowball fights. He aids the uptight Squidward in loosening up. Their relationship is the typical love/hate neighbor relationship, their dynamic is special.
Enjoy the Simple Things in Life - SpongeBob doesn’t need fancy video games and toys to make him happy. His home is simply decorated. His free time is spent with friends. He enjoys the same things that many kids do, blowing bubbles, fishing (jelly fishing in his world), camping and playing in boxes. He’s not caught up in “I need this” or “I want this.” He makes do with what he has in front of him, he utilizes his imagination, and he enjoys every minute of it.
Be Helpful - SpongeBob is helpful to a fault. It sometimes makes for his most exciting adventures. In a typical episode, SpongeBob will try to do something helpful for someone. It completely backfires in his face, and then he will make it right. In the end, everyone is happy.
Find Your Bliss - We all want our children to grow up to be happy well adjusted members of society. What better way to be able to accomplish that then by finding what you love and spending your time doing it. SpongeBob’s bliss is being a Fry Cook. In his spare time, he gets great joy from jellyfish hunting. So, the show gives us two examples of how doing what you love can make you happy. As adults, we don’t necessarily end up in a career that we love. Gosh darn those bills we have to pay. Its nice to know that SpongeBob also teaches kids that they can find what makes them happy not only through their place of employment, but also through other activities.
Be Happy - No matter what life throws at SpongeBob, he finds a way to overcome it to be happy. His moments of sadness are usually fleeting. His boss may yell at him, his neighbor may ignore him, and his best friend may be disappointed with him. But, you can always count on the fact that at the end of each episode he will be smiling his buck-toothed grin. If I wish nothing else for my children, I wish them to be happy.
Yes, I do realize that SpongeBob SquarePants may not be typical educational television, but he can teach our children a lot. In fact, as adults we could all more than likely take a few lessons from that goofy looking yellow sponge.
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