Journalist Joanna Allhands is the first one to admit that “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” “is nearly unwatchable for anyone over age 6.”
The PBS Kids show is “sappy and not at all funny,” says Allhands, azcentral’s digital opinions editor.
Thankfully, her 2-year-old boy can’t get enough of it, because every episode is designed to hold a toddler’s attention, she said, and teach a lesson using a song that is repeated over and over.
Allhands and her boy were able to get through sticky situations using the show’s songs and lessons. Here’s how:
- To quiet a meltdown (“give a squeeze, nice and slow, take a deep breath, and let it go”).
- To get her kid to share (“you can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back”).
- To get him to leave without protest (“it’s almost time to stop, so choose one more thing to do”).
Even in a restaurant bathroom, Allhands recalls. “As I got our 2-year-old situated on the toilet, I began running through the song Daniel Tiger sings – ‘If you have to go potty, stop and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way’ – because it helps him remember everything he needs to do in there.”
It’s not magic, it’s science
In Allhands’ recent column about the show, an expert explains how Daniel Tiger and other characters use instruction, modeling, rehearsal and feedback to teach new skills and behaviors.
But, she points to a media study and notes, “Daniel Tiger can help quiet a toddler meltdown or help them try something new – but only if parents are actively involved in the watching and modeling its lessons in real life.”
My own son just turned 20, and although I’m sure he learned plenty of lessons from “Barney & Friends” and “Teletubbies,” now I wish he had grown up around Daniel Tiger. Maybe his kid will.
Watch a clip from ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’