When it comes to toddler screen time there seem to be ridiculous amount of options at their tiny little fingertips. We do our best to limit to screen time at our house but let’s face it… sometimes mama needs a break and a little TV captures my daughter’s attention in a heartbeat. I can live with that as long as there is some educational value to what she’s watching. I quickly learned to love Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a PBS cartoon based on the lessons from one of my own childhood favorites, Mister Rogers!
Each episode has a life lesson and a song that reinforces that lesson. The songs are very short and catchy so when a situation arises in real life, I can sing the song and my daughter recognizes it. The songs help children identify their feelings and behaviors. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood also has a book series, which shares the same lessons so we love checking those from the library or giving them to her as gifts.
12 of our favorite Daniel Tiger lessons
1. “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.”
Teaching kids how to regulate their emotions is one of the most important aspects of child development. Daniel Tiger gives a name to these confusing emotions and shows children ways to calm down when they get angry.
2. “Keep trying; you’ll get better.”
This lesson applies when your child is learning a new skill, such as catching a ball, learning colors, or jumping up and down.
3. “When something seems bad, turn it around, and find something good.”
Seeing the positive side of the situation is a great lesson for kids to learn at a young age.
4. “You should try new foods ‘cause they might taste good.”
For picky eaters, singing Daniel Tiger’s song and showing the episode about trying new foods might entice children to explore new foods and broaden their horizons.
5. “When you have to go potty, stop and go right away! Flush, wash, and be on your way.”
This tune was a lifesaver when we tackled potty training. It’s a simple way to encourage your child to use the restroom when you see them squirming in public and trying to fight the urge. It also helps you reiterate good hygiene habits in a fun way!
6. “Do your best. Your best is the best for YOU.”
This lesson is a great reminder for all ages, and it opens the door to teach toddlers not to fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others but to celebrate each of our individual accomplishments.
7. “Think about how someone else is feeling; maybe you can help them feel better.”
Empathy at its best. Don’t we all need to judge a little less and be a bit more empathetic? I think so.
8. “When you’re frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help.”
This lesson is one of my favorites. Learning how to cope with frustration is an important skill and encouraging children to ask for help when they feel frustrated can prevent some unnecessary meltdowns.
9. “Use your words, use your words, use your words and say how you feel.”
Daniel Tiger growls when he is upset or frustrated and his mom encourages him to use his words. Telling kids to use their words is a common phrase used by parents, but when our daughter can relate the concept to a character she adores, she seems to change her behavior more willingly.
10. “It’s almost time to stop, so choose one more thing to do.”
We use this little song often! Many meltdowns are triggered by transitions so warning your toddler that it is almost time to end an activity and allowing them to choose one more will make them feel in control and prepared.
11. “Grownups come back to you. Grownups come back they do. Grownups come back!”
This lesson normalizes separation anxiety and is a great song to sing before big and small transitions, such as starting a new school or mom and dad going on a date night. It’s a great one for parents to sing it as part of a goodbye routine.
12. “Friends help each other, yes they do!”
Learning to ask for help when needed is a great life lesson. On the flip side I love that this teaches little ones to OFFER help just as often.
If you have a toddler or preschooler at home I highly recommend Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It teaches social, emotional and behavioral life lessons in a fun and entertaining way. Heck, I bet you’ll even find yourself soaking up some words of wisdom for everyday life as a parent!