Disclosure: I’m a member of the #Netflix #StreamTeam and receive occasional product and early access to programming. But every word I write is all mine.

Life is full of challenges. And as parents, we’re supposed to know how to help our children through all of them: understanding consequences for not following rules, the importance of being honest and responsible, not giving in to peer pressure, how to work and play well with others, maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem, how to be a good friend, and more. It’s as if because we used to be kids, we somehow magically have all the answers. Well, here’s a newsflash: Most of us bumbled through childhood and have no memory of how we dealt with most of what life threw at us. Unfortunately, that doesn’t equip us very well to help our kids when they’re facing the same challenges we did.

There are a few ways to handle this. On the one hand, we could take a hands-off approach, offering support where needed, but letting life take its course. After all, if we made it through childhood okay without a lot of parental intervention, chances are our kids will too. On the other hand, we can take on a more active role, talking with our children about what’s happening with them and helping smooth out some of the rough spots. I’m not talking about helicopter parenting or snowplow parenting (pushing all obstacles out of the way). I’m just saying that we have a chance to give our kids something we may not have had enough of when we were their age: someone to talk to and to give us advice.

I’m a fan of option B. But how are we supposed to know what to say and do? The answer may come from a rather unlikely source: Netflix. Yes, Netflix. Whether our kids are toddlers, tweens, or teens, Netflix has a ton of excellent, streaming programming that we can use as conversation starters and learning aids. The operative words here are “conversation” and “aid.” This isn’t about parking our kids in front of a screen and hoping that they’ll glean the right messages from what they’re watching. Oh, no. this is about using what’s happening on screen to jump start discussions. There are two goals here: One is for us to understand what our kids are going through and the challenges they’re facing. The other is for them to understand that that can talk to us about anything, come to us with questions or concerns, and not worry about being lectured to or criticized. Need some suggestions? Below is a sampling of what Netflix has on tap:

For the little kids:

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Sibling Rivalry
Watch Ep. S1E1: Babee’s Room

Buzzbee and Rubee compete over who Babee (their new sibling) gets to room with. Mom and Dad must explain to Buzzbee and Rubee that Babee needs to grow up before she can share a room.

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Watch Ep. S1E1: Puppies & Guppies/ Sorry We’re Closed Today

Larry and Laura Carrot want to adopt puppies but quickly learn it takes responsibility in order to watch over and care for a pet of their own.

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Following the Rules
Watch Ep. S1E6: Stormy Weather/ Baba’s Adventure/ Rock Music

Mama tells Oona and Baba to stay close with a storm approaching. After ignoring her advice, Oona and Baba get stuck in a seagull nest during the heavy thunderstorms.


For the big kids:

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Watch Ep. 113: Star

After Dulcinea feels like no one in the group needs her help, she tries to use a newly-discovered wishing star to show her worth — but fails — showing her that presence alone has lit up her friends’ lives all along.

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Watch Ep. 103: Smart is the New Cool

After McKeyla insists she works better alone, she learns that four is better than one when her friends jump in to help her rescue the Prince from a botched space mission.

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Peer Pressure
Watch Ep. 106: The Legend of El Explosivo

After getting grounded for sneaking off to Bobby Popko’s house, Jackson realizes he needs to stand up for what he knows is right and not give in to please his friends.


For the teens:

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Social Media FOMO
Watch Ep. 102: Girl Meets Boy

Cory challenges his class to unplug from their phones for a week. When Riley and her crush Lucas sit down to talk face-to-face, personal stories bring them closer.

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Self Improvement
Watch Ep. 104: Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!

Kimmy quickly realizes that she can’t fix her problems by simply “Buhbreezing” them away – real change comes from the inside.

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Body Image
Watch Ep. 101: #BootyCall

According to the kids of Degrassi Community School, butts are the new boobs. But Shay’s realization that “brains are the new butts” can speak to a number of body image insecurities.