10 Life Lessons from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

PBS show teaches children social, emotional and behavioral lessons

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Every family creates their own rules about television consumption. Studies show that using television as a constant babysitter has negative implications on child development, but in short segments television can provide education for children and a much-needed break for parents. 

One show I highly recommend is the PBS show Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. The program, which is targeted at preschool-aged children, is based on the Neighborhood of Make-Believe from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. 

It teaches children social, emotional and behavioral life lessons. It is slow-moving, includes adorable songs and me and my son both love it.

Each episode has a life lesson and a song that reinforces that lesson. The songs are very catchy and when a situation arises in real life, I can sing the song and my son 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. The books can be purchased through the PBS website, Amazon and other retailers.

Here are some of my 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. 
  1. “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. 
  2. "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. 
  1. "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.
  2. "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.
  3. "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 children can relate the concept to a likable character, they may change their behavior more willingly.
  4. "It's almost time to stop, so you choose one more thing to do." That was fun, but now it's done." This is another favorite lesson. 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.
  5. "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 going off to work. Parents can sing it as part of a goodbye routine.
  1. "Friends help each other, yes they do!" Ego-centric toddlers can learn from Daniel Tiger that it is ok to ask friends for help. 
  2. "When you have to go potty, stop and go right away, flush and wash and be on your way." Many kids do not want to go to the potty in fear of missing out on the fun. Daniel Tiger teaches kids that if they go right away, it will be quick and they can return to the fun right away!