Good news for moderate parental negligence—a study soon to be published in the Journal of Children and Media found that watching the PBS Kids cartoon Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood may help preschoolers develop social and emotional skills. For those of you who have not yet been inducted into the Daniel Tiger cult, each episode deals with a common issue for toddlers and preschool-age kids—fear of starting school, separation anxiety, a new baby, sharing, resolving conflict with peers, etc. There is always a catchy “strategy song” that reinforces the message after the show ends. One of my son’s favorite episodes is “Daniel Visits School,” and I sing the strategy song fairly often to remind myself that he’s the kind of kid that needs extra reassurance during transitions: When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do. C is also obsessed with all of the episodes that feature Daniel’s baby sister Margaret, which is just about enough to make my heart completely explode with love and forgive him for all of his general ass-hattery.
Given Daniel Tiger’s proven success at imparting macro-level life lessons about kindness, empathy, and managing negative feelings, I figure the show’s writers might be equally effective at helping us parents handle some of the more micro challenges of daily life with toddlers. To that end, I have created a list and summaries of suggested episodes I would like to see produced in the near-future:
Episode 501: Daniel Leaves His Shoes on in the Car
Daniel is riding in the car to the grocery store! He is going to leave his shoes on for the entire ride to the store and the entire ride home because he understands that even though it’s only June, it’s already 98 degrees outside, and the last thing Mommy Tiger needs is to be crawling around the back seat of her black station wagon trying to find his forty-dollar Sperrys. Daniel is also going to stop unbuckling his chest clip repeatedly and dumping the entire bag of Goldfish crackers he insisted on holding into his lap.
Strategy Song: No matter how itchy the infinitesimally microscopic piece of sand on your toe is, you still have to leave your shoes on.
Episode 502: Daniel Diversifies His Musical Tastes Beyond Uptown Funk and The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Everyone loves Bruno Mars! Golden Oldies are great for dancing! But seriously Daniel, there is an entire universe of musical genres yet to be explored, and if Daddy Tiger tries to hit the high note in “Whimoweh” one more time, Mommy Tiger is going to file for divorce.
Strategy Song: What About Beyoncé? Everyone Loves Beyoncé. Even Taylor Swift is fine, whatever, anything but the Bieber.
Episode 503: Daniel Displays a Little Bit of Flexibility When We’re Out of Cream Cheese
The Tiger family is enjoying Saturday breakfast together! Daniel is having his customary morning meal of half of a whole wheat bagel, cut into quarters and prepared to “medium” heat, meaning Mommy Tiger toasts it to a golden brown and then puts it in the freezer for 45 seconds, no more, no less, to achieve ideal temperature. Oh no, looks like someone forgot to put cream cheese on the grocery list! No worries, Daniel is not going to start shrieking like he’s fallen into a quicksand pit made of yellow jackets, instead he listens calmly as his parents explain that they will go to the store later, and for now he can have peanut butter on his bagel instead. Or he can have a waffle. Or cereal. Or pickles and olives. The world is your fucking oyster, Daniel, just please stop screaming before the neighbors call the police.
Strategy Song: Life is full if disappointment, but that’s not an excuse to act like a turd.
Episode 504: Daniel Wears His Pull-Up Diaper All Night Long
My how Daniel has grown! He is so independent, and he loves to help Mommy Tiger out with Baby Margaret. Daniel has been fully potty trained for awhile, but he still has to wear his pull-up at night, because accidents can happen when you are sleeping. Accidents that result in lots of extra laundry for Mommy Tiger, who already spends about 95% of her waking hours doing laundry. Mommy Tiger didn’t graduate from law school just so she could dedicate her life to folding underwear! Daniel helps minimize the amount of laundry Mommy Tiger has to do by keeping his pull-up on all night long, even if he wakes up at 3:30am and decides that it’s scratchy.
Strategy Song: Keep your pee in your pull-up and not soaking through your $80 organic sheet set from Pottery Barn.
Episode 505: Daniel and Baby Margaret Choose Not to Coordinate Their Epic Evening Meltdowns
It’s been a long week for Mommy Tiger! While Daddy Tiger is away on business, sleeping in dark hotel rooms and conversing in full sentences with other adults, Mommy Tiger has been trying to sleep-train Baby Margaret while also dealing with Daniel’s latest nap regression. Uh-oh, Daniel has something in his eye…or is that pink eye? Time for a trip to urgent care during rush hour! In order to prevent Mommy Tiger from becoming a full-blown alcoholic, Daniel and Baby Margaret decide that rather than express their feelings about this stressful event through tandem sobbing, they are both going to go to bed without protest and sleep 11 hours through the night.
Strategy Song: When the baby is crying, instead of crying too, why don’t you do something useful like open Mommy a bottle of wine.
How about you? What episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood would you like to have custom-tailored to your particular parenting dilemmas? I hear PBS is struggling with the recent decreases in federal funding, so perhaps they could turn made-to-order TV shows into a new revenue stream. You’re welcome, Big Bird!
Written by: Kathleen