It’s not everyday that parents find a toddler TV show that they’re just as invested in as their child. But the day has finally come where I’ve found myself completely engaged in one show that my kid simply adores: “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.”
It’s a beautiful day in the Neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?
It was a subtle attempt to find something besides the norm of what my son usually watches. His regular shows weren’t really entertaining him anymore—and I also feared that they weren’t truly teaching him anything valuable. It was then that I thought back to the shows that my younger siblings would watch on TV those early mornings before heading off to school.
Related: 15 TV shows about kindness for kids
So I plopped my toddler down on the couch beside me and a simple YouTube search led us down a rabbit hole of Daniel Tiger episodes. Let’s just say, he absolutely loved them—and so did I.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is the show that resembles practices of displaying empathy, showing appreciation, regulating emotions and so much more.
As a parent who’s struggled an immense amount with screen time guilt, it’s a huge sigh of relief studies have found that this show can help kids with learning and developing social skills. And it also teaches them about leaning on the people around them—their community.
The perk of it being educational thankfully alleviates some of the guilt that I’ve held around screen time in general—but it also reassures me that while my son is watching TV, he is also picking up some valuable skills.
Not only does this show do a decent job of teaching my toddler different life lessons, but it also teaches me (the adult), as well.
There’s a particular episode titled “Daniel Gets Mad.” In this episode, Daniel Tiger is supposed to go to Jungle Beach with Prince Wednesday. The kids have awaited this day for quite some time, showing pure excitement and glee as they prepare for their adventure. But when a storm sets in, Mom Tiger breaks the news that they can no longer play outside.
Daniel Tiger and Prince Wednesday get very mad—as we’d assume most of our toddlers would in this kind of situation. Rather than making them feel bad for their emotions, Mom Tiger instead reassures them that while it’s OK to be disappointed, learning how to regulate their anger can help them calm down and find a solution to their problem.
All the things that us parents somehow believe our kids should magically already know, this show reminds us that they’re little humans adjusting to a big world.
“When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four… 1, 2, 3, 4,” Mom Tiger encourages them as she first models this calming technique herself and then invites both Daniel Tiger and Prince Wednesday to do as well.
Later on in the episode, after the kids have decided to bring their beach day inside the house, Mom Tiger finds that they’ve brought real sand inside—which makes her very upset. Once she notices her anger, she reverts to the song to calm down and help the boys find a solution to yet another problem.
At the end of the episode, Mom Tiger, Daniel Tiger and Prince Wednesday are all satisfied. They made an impromptu indoor beach day and avoided any major messes by using blankets instead of real sand.
I loved how this episode not only modeled working together to solve a problem, but it also showed a realistic example of how both children and adults deal with emotions.
As a parent of a toddler, it reminded me that it’s OK for my child to see me experience an emotion, such as anger, as long as he also sees me regulate said emotion—because that then teaches him how to regulate his own. And also reminds him that I’m human, just like him.
While I’m not dependent on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to teach my toddler his social skills, I do love that it’s a positive addition to his day that can serve as a friendly educational tool.
And to top it off, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood emphasizes the importance of everyone within a community. From the mailman to the bakery owner to just about anyone you can think of. It’s a reminder that we have so many people around us that we can count on and depend on. After all, as the saying goes, it does take a village to raise a child—and Daniel Tiger has a wonderful community.
I also appreciate that it shows realistic problems that toddlers deal with—like handling life changes and managing disappointments. All the things that us parents somehow believe our kids should magically already know, this show reminds us that they’re little humans adjusting to a big world—and they need just as much grace as we do.
I’m thankful my toddler has a show like this to grow up on—and even more thankful that as it teaches it, it also teaches me.
Motherly Stories are first person, 500-1000 word stories, reflecting on the insights you’ve experienced in motherhood—and the wisdom you’ve gained along the way. They also help other women realize they’re not alone. Motherly Stories don’t judge. Instead, they inspire other mamas with stories of meaning, hope and a realization that “you’ve got this.” If you have a story, please submit it here: https://www.mother.ly/share-your-story/