If you are one of the parents who strictly follows the regulations for technology use/screen time for your kids in order to avoid delayed development, mental illness, sleep deprivation, aggression, digital dementia and a host of other ills….kudos! You are awesome. Way to not screw up your kids.
But umm….this post isn’t really for you.
On the other hand, if you’re a parent who may or may not occasionally give your two-year-old an iPhone to prevent total, apocalyptic meltdown in the middle of Kroger or put on just one more episode of <insert mind-numbing, brightly-colored, shrilly discordant vehicle of episodic childhood glee here> in order to eat/shower/defecate all by yourself…..then you may keep reading, my friend.
Of course, I don’t advocate using the television as a babysitter. (Much.) But sometimes….y’all know Mama needs a break. Fortunately for mamas today, there’s an increasingly wide range of children’s programming options that are
guilt-free innovative, educational, and inspiring! Thus, instead of watching the “Single Ladies” video ten times in a row (hypothetically), your toddler can work on his or her social-emotional development.
Today, I’d like to give a shout-out to our absolute favorite in children’s programming, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
From PBS, Daniel Tiger is based on the puppet in the original Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Geared toward ages 2-4, the show focuses on one emotional or developmental challenge in each episode and then follows a character as he or she practices strategies to overcome that issue in different situations.
The show covers childhood basics such as sharing, safety, toilet training, helping friends, etc., but recent episodes have branched into more complicated emotional lessons such as fostering empathy, handling jealousy, and taming frustration.
For parents focused on connective parenting and helping our children “name” their feelings or relate better to their own emotions, episodes can provide wonderful conversation starters.
“Hey Ellie, when you hurled your bowl of cereal across the room, were you frustrated?
“Yeah Mommy. I fwustwated. I mad. SO mad. I want cheese. Big cheese!”
I mean, you still have to clean up the cereal, but at least you know why, right?
The best part is that each episode features a simple, catchy song that reinforces the lesson and is easy for parents to practice with toddlers for use in a heated moment. For instance, in this clip, Daniel is upset because his birthday cake gets squished inside the box, and the lesson focuses on dealing with disappointment.
Y’all, it’s cheesy I know, but it works. Without any input from us, Ellie has started singing these songs to herself, her friends, and us, and the amazing thing is that thus far, she always applies an applicable song to each situation.
For instance, the other day, Ellie had a friend over to play, and the girls were sharing toys in the driveway. (Yes. I let her go outside in her pajamas. What about it?) When her friend got upset about getting out of a car for Ellie’s turn, Ellie put her hands on her hips and started singing, “Take something bad; make something good! Make it good Sawah!” Preferable to just yanking her out or throwing a tantrum, right?
Likewise, on more than one occasion, she’s been initially a little clingy when we’ve dropped her at new places; however, after a minute or two, she sings “Grooooownups come back” and then kisses us goodbye with a grin.
That’s why I LOVE this show. Daniel Tiger models problem-solving skills in ways that empower very young children and gives them tools to attempt to solve conflict and regulate emotions on their own.
And you better believe we pull out some Daniel Tiger when it benefits us. That chubby little feline is our go-to strategy these days. Frustrated about lacing up shoes? Trouble remembering your bedtime routine? So angry that you want to ROAR?!
There’s a song for that.
Just show me a little grace when I break out into song in public. It happens.
What television shows do your kids enjoy?