Confession: I let me toddler watch TV. Shocking, I know. This is not to say the TV is on all day (or every day for that matter) but I do allow TV to be watched in our home because I enjoyed TV as a child and I think I turned out just fine. That being said, the shows my toddler watches are hand selected by me (even if she thinks she is picking the show). One of my toddler's new favorites is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, currently airing on PBS Kids. This half hour show is split into two, easy to digest episodes with a break in-between that showcases real life kids. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is entertaining and also educational. Here are four lessons my toddler has learned from Daniel Tiger.
About Daniel Tiger
Some of the characters on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood are ones featured in the "Neighborhood of Make Believe" on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Daniel and his family live near Prince Tuesday and Prince Wednesday (who's parents are King Friday and Queen Saturday), Miss Elaina (who's parents are Lady Elaine and Music Man Stan), Katerina Cat (her mother is Henrietta) and O the Owl (he lives with his uncle X, the Owl).
Each episode features an 11 minute story with an intermission of sorts that showcases real life children. Each episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is themed and each 11 minute story showcases the theme in a different way. In one episode about being sick the first 11 minute episode shows Daniel being sick and the second shows him needing to take care of his mom who is sick. Each theme is accompanied by a "strategy song" that helps make the lesson fun and easy to understand.
4 Lessons My Toddler Learned from Daniel Tiger
How to Try New Foods
My toddler is veggie AND fruit adverse. She is a tough cookie when it comes to trying new things. Daniel Tiger's Neighbor dedicated an entire episode to trying new foods and included a catchy tune that said "You have to try need foods because they might taste good" and showcased Daniel and his friends being apprehensive about new foods but trying them anyway. Sometimes they liked the new food and sometimes they didn't. Either way they were praised for simply trying the new food which is the most important part.
I don't expect my toddler to like EVERYTHING but I would like her to try everything and now at the dinner table when she isn't into trying something I sing her the little jingle and she (reluctantly) takes a bite. Sometimes (okay, most of the time) the bite comes back out but at least she tried it!
How Grown Ups Come Back After They Leave
Leaving my girls with a babysitter has been hard on me, we've really only ever left them with family and more specifically my parents but now that we aren't near by if my husband and I want to go out we will have to turn to an actual babysitter. Once again, Daniel Tiger has been able to help prep our toddler. In an episode Daniel's parents leave him for a night with a babysitter and before they go they sing, "Grown ups come back to you, grown ups come back they do. Grown ups come back." Daniel has fun playing with his babysitter but when it comes time for his nighttime routine, things are a little different without his parents but he is reassured by the jingle and that "grown ups come back" in the end he falls asleep and Daniel's parents come in and give him a kiss.
We recently had a trial run with a babysitter and when we said a babysitter was coming over my toddler asked, "like Daniel Tiger?" and I was really thankful for being able to put a visual of what happens when a babysitter comes over in her head prior to leaving her with one.
How to Take Turns
Sharing is HARD and when you have two girls just over a year a part, sharing is REALLY hard. Daniel Tiger has a lot of friends and sharing was tricky for them too until they learned how to take turns. Another quick jingle and another life lesson thanks to this cute tiger.
"You can take a turn, then I'll get it back". That's the strategy song in sharing themed episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood while Daniel and his friends figure out how to play together. Now when my toddler and her sister both clutching at the same book or toy I tell my toddler her sister can take a turn and then she'll get it back. This admittedly doesn't always go over smoothly but once her sister drops the book or toy (which usually is only a few minutes later because she's only one) my toddler sees that sharing wasn't all that bad.
How to Deal with Being Angry
"When you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breath and count to 4". This reminds me of "3 - 2 - 1, 1 - 2 - 3, what the heck is bothering me?" a lesson I learned from Family Matters.
I love that Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood does not shy away from tough topics. Getting angry happens and when you're a toddler getting angry happens A LOT. Instead of yelling at your friend, sibling or parent - step back from the situation, breath, count to 4 and explain yourself. Examples of characters getting angry include not getting to play the instrument they wanted in music class and being told they couldn't bring sand into the house from the beach when it was raining outside. Each time the grownups on the show calmly listened to Daniel and his friends explain why they are mad, reminding them to count to 4 before explaining themselves. My toddler has started to recognize when she is angry and will say as much. Then we talk about why she is angry as calmly as she can and we're able to work through it.
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a part of PBS Kids, check your local listings for airing times.