My Love Letter to Daniel Tigers Neighborhood

©PBS Kids
©PBS Kids

Gavin is watching more television than I’d like to admit these days, but I try my best to preview what he watches and make sure that it’s educational programming, these days anything PBS Kids or Disney Junior is fair game. He’s been fans of a variety of shows over the last year, most recently Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Neverland Pirates, but our favorite show to watch together is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Several months ago, I got news of the new show, through the promotion of the release of the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood iPad app, that launched prior the shows release. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is an animated show on PBS Kids featuring 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, his parents and his preschool friends and teacher. You might remember many of these friends as the puppets who debuted in the classic, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

Themes I’ve seen have included in episodes include being a good friend, learning to go the bathroom in public, sharing toys, respecting differences, having a babysitter, and getting ready for school on time. Having a 3-year-old, not only is this show a fresh new take on some of the same issues our preschoolers have faced for centuries, every episode feels like a realistic slice of our daily routine, but packaged up into bright colors, and catchy songs that include amazing underlying parenting strategies.

I’ve worked with preschool and elementary school aged kids for a long time, browsed the internet, asked friends, and instituted strategies into our life that I’ve learned over the years from talented co-workers who are neuropsychologists, school psychologists, social workers and early childhood special educators.  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is probably one of the best resources I’ve ever had the pleasure of using, because it takes all of these strategies that specialists use with all children, and it delivers it in a way that both children and adults can learn from.

When Gavin had an accident at school when he pooped in his pants, I cued up the episode where Prince Wednesday needed to go potty at school. The next day, walking into school, on his own, Gavin started singing, “Stop and go right away, flush and wash and be on your way.” Lately, Gavin has been having a hard time dealing with me not always being there for him at preschool pick-up or drop-off, or just spending time away from me in general. In preparation for my annual trip to Toy Fair in New York City, we watched the episodes where Daniel Tiger’s parents go on a date night, and he heard the tune, “Grown-ups, come back.” When  we were struggling getting out of the house in the morning, accomplishing the entire daily routine, we followed Daniel Tiger’s morning routine, and somehow, it seemed much easier for him to digest the rules, when he could view them coming from something he valued and was motivated to see, rather than me barking my usual orders that ended in a screaming match. During each show, Daniel Tiger gives his parents and the viewers a nose wiggle, called an “Ugga Mugga.” Aside from a hug and a kiss, we frequently “Ugga Mugga” ourselves at home, and often times Gavin initiates it completely on his own, it melts my heart.

Just like I will never forget Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Captain Kangaroo, I hope that in 30 years from now when Gavin’s raising his own children that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is one of the shows that he remembers to be near and dear to his childhood. This may be sappy, but this sweet, adorable, kind-hearted tiger has brought so much love, warmth, affection, positivity and understanding into our daily lives and he challenges me to be a better parent and clinician each and everyday.

For all you Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood fans, grammy artist Jason Mraz has teamed up with the crew to sing two songs on a new episode airing February 14th, 2013. We’ve got our DVR all set, do you?

I received a press release regarding the information related to the new episode premiere. I was not compensated at all for this post, and any opinions provided are my own.

 

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