Not Just for Kids:: Lessons I’ve Learned from Daniel Tiger

At the recommendation of other parents of toddlers, Daniel Tiger was the first television show that we introduced to our daughter, and it’s currently the only show she really watches. I love the short episodes that make it easy to find a cut off point, the life lessons that are applicable to the things she experiences as a little person, and that it is on the lesser end of the spectrum of annoying kid shows. “DT” as we refer to him in our house, has helped our little to cope with lots of situations in day to day life, like remembering that “grownups come back” when we drop her off somewhere, or to “take a deep breath and count to four” when she feels mad. It has helped her to know what to expect when she goes to the doctor and the dentist, and I am sure prevented many a meltdown. These days, Daniel is helping her through anticipating becoming a big sibling. 

What I didn’t expect in the re-watching of episodes for the fiftieth time, and listening to our Daniel Tiger spotify playlist on repeat, is the lessons that would sink in for me. I didn’t think a children’s show could be so applicable to adult life, but here we are. 

So Many Feelings

Lessons I've Learned from Daniel Tiger

Daniel Tiger has several songs about feelings, but one of them ironically “hit me in the feels” as they say. The song “So Many Feelings” talks about the different feelings, and validates that it is ok to feel all of them. The first time I heard it, the line “It’s ok to feel any way” brought tears to my eyes while driving in the car. It might seem silly, but that’s not a message I internalized as a child, and it’s one I’ve struggled with as an adult. Hearing it so simply put somehow made its way into my brain, and I often repeat it to myself when I am struggling to accept my own messy feelings. This has been so helpful for me as a parent. I want my child to know it’s ok to feel whatever she feels, and in order to teach her that, I have to work on modeling it too. 

Take a Step Back and Ask for Help

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I find it really hard to ask for help. My stress response tends to be going into overdrive and doing all of the things myself because I have this belief that someone else won’t get it done or won’t do it right. “Right” being the way I’ve made up in my head that it should be done. Everyone needs help, especially parents. We can’t do it all. When this catchy tune rolls through my head, it reminds me of this.

When You’re Sick, Rest is Best

This is one of the songs that get stuck in my head the most, and I’ve found myself repeating it to other people when they get sick! I fortunately don’t get sick very often, but when I do I tend to be the person that tries to power through it rather than taking a break to let my body heal. Now I remind myself that “rest is best” when I am sick or after a long day. 

Use Your Words

When I am upset, or angry, or just having a hard time, my introvert self tends to withdraw. I like to work things out in my head before I talk about them. This works sometimes, but often it leaves me alone with whatever hard thing I am going through, or leads to me making a big deal of something that really isn’t as bad as I think it is {hello anxiety}. Talking to someone else gets things out in the open, and helps me to share the burdens that I carry. 

Family Time is Special

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So many episodes of Daniel Tiger are about everyday things. Going to the grocery store, spending time with friends, having dinner together as a family. It’s a good reminder for me that these are the days that I will look back on and cherish. The everyday trials and joys of these family days are so special, so I should stop to enjoy them every once in a while. 


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