I can only think of one TV show geared towards children that almost all parents approve. PBS’s Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood uses nostalgic cartoon characters from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood to teach children problem-solving skills and promote social-emotional maturity. Each episode presents a social story faced by children, the characters work through the conflict using a song to help them cope, and between each of the two parts real kids are featured applying the skills taught during the episode.
Daniel Tiger is Part of My Day, Too
I find myself singing the catchy jingles to my kids throughout the day for various reasons. I frequently hear other mamas saying things like, “It’s almost time to stop, choose one more thing to do” or “if you have to go potty, stop, and go right away.” We share a smile and an appreciation for that little Tiger that has saved us from losing our minds in that moment. Suddenly it dawned on me: Daniel Tiger is not just for kids. Daniel Tiger (and his always cheery parents) have helped improve my parenting and my own problem solving and coping skills.
Sometimes my natural reactions to my kiddo experiencing “big feelings” is less than lovely. I know good and well that when emotions are flying around unchecked, my children are not going to be the ones to bring wisdom to the table. Thanks to Daniel Tiger’s Big Feelings collection, I am loaded with an arsenal of songs to sing to prevent me from losing my cool.
Also, potty training seemed less daunting when I had a song to sing which reminds kids to flush and wash (and not play around in the bathroom by telling them to be on their way).
Complex Emotions on a Kid Level
I am thankful for the stories and songs that have helped me put into “kid words” complex emotions like jealousy, dual feelings, and fear. I love the fact that, thanks to Daniel Tiger, it is perfectly acceptable for me to sing to my kids as I’m trying to get them to leave the playground.
Sure, at times I have been a little bitter that these cartoon parents and teachers are always kind and sing-songy. Then I remember they are only on screen for 15 minutes at a time! I can be kind and sing-songy for 15 minutes at a time, too! In that sense, Daniel Tiger has helped me to break up long days into smaller chunks. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by struggle after struggle, I am trying to approach each conflict separately and move on before the next one arises. Unfortunately, that is where I am reminded Daniel Tiger is just a TV show. Writers focus on one conflict and resolution at a time. Often in parenting we are juggling multiple unrelated conflicts.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has equipped me with tools to parent a toddler and preschooler in the throes of exploring their place in our world.
Daniel Tiger Helped Me
On a more humorous note, the show has helped me handle my own problems more effectively.
Recently, my boy saw me losing patience with something and sang so sweetly to me, “take a step back and ask for help.” I have heard other parents share similar stories. Their child whipped out a Daniel Tiger song to subtly help the grown ups through a struggle. The songs and lessons from this show extend beyond the early years. Who doesn’t want to hear that, “it’s okay to feel sad sometimes, but little by little you’ll feel better again”?
I know there are some adults who need the reminder that in some ways we are different, but in so many ways, we are the same. And, perhaps spouses could benefit from the suggestions posed in the song “Find Your Own Way to Say I Love You.”
If only we adults could process emotions so simply as these little hearts. If we take the simple ideas found in this TV show, we might find more effective ways to express and deal with our own emotions.
While the target audience of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is preschool, parents can learn a lot from these little critters. Now, if only the producers would continue to follow Daniel and his friends through the teenage years, I would greatly appreciate it.
Here is a comprehensive list of song titles and lyrics for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.