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Rowan Pelling: Peppa Pig a bad influence ... well, where does that leave Tom & Jerry?

IF infant misbehaviour is derived from cartoon characters, I would have dropped anvils on my siblings’ heads in the manner of Tom and Jerry.

Step aside, Dennis the Menace. The worst kiddie role model of the modern age is that infamous miscreant Peppa Pig.

It would appear Peppa and her brother George have been inciting small children to jump in puddles, reject vegetables, splatter cake-mix and – deep breath – to mock their parents.

I am startled by this on various levels.

Firstly, it seems there are adults who can watch Peppa Pig without reaching for Strychnine. It also means that parents exist who are so blessed with free time they loll about watching cartoons with their offspring, rather than using the TV as a nanny and sedative.

Strangest of all, however, is the knowledge they believe their infant’s misbehaviour is derived from cartoon characters.

If that were the case, I would have spent my entire childhood dropping anvils on my siblings’ heads, in the manner of Tom and Jerry. Indeed, levels of cheek and violence in children’s cartoons seem vastly reduced since the days of Bugs Bunny and co.

Furthermore, I am not sure the anti-Peppa brigade fully comprehend the innate waywardness of toddlers. It seems to me you could raise your average three-year-old in a Mongolian yurt and it would still throw tantrums, love mud and say “yuck” to cabbage.

There’s a brilliant Dylan Moran sketch in which the comedian compares tiny children to drunks, because they lurch around, make little sense and do their utmost to provoke you. Quite so.

A recent confrontation with my younger son over socks went something like this: “No, the blue ones! No, the red ones! No, I won’t wear socks! Blue, red, blue, red … I can’t stop crying, I can’t stop shouting.”

Meanwhile, an old diary informs me that the age at which my elder boy hit upon the brilliant wheeze of hiding his peas under sofa cushions was identical to that at which his sibling did the same thing. I view the incident as a key developmental stage. After all, both boys in turn cracked a swift and efficient way to be rewarded with pudding.

So I am happy to note that parents questioned for a new report on things every toddler “must do” included boundary-pushing activities such as “tell a fib”, “jump in a puddle” and “break something valuable”. I am only sorry to note that the list didn’t include my personal favourites: scribble all along the white hall wall with a red pen and hide so cleverly that Mummy can’t find you until she’s about to call the police.