Despite my earlier (pre-baby) insistence that screen time would be non-existent in my household, we’ve watched plenty of the ol’ tube. We don’t have cable or television service, but we do have YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime hooked up to our Roku.
This at least realizes my childhood fantasy that I could have all my favorite show seasons on VHS and show them to my kid per my own schedule without them seeing any of the shows I deemed “stupid” (e.g. ‘The Magic School Bus’ instead of ‘Ren and Stimpy’) or be troubled by pesky commercials. We’re truly living in the golden age. Also, wasn’t I an odd 4th grader?
For the first year of my son’s entrance into the entertainment sphere he only watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I (and he) have every season memorized, and my eye doesn’t even twitch when I say that. Five stars, Daniel. Season 2 and 3 contain the majority of my favorites. So I suppose if you’re going to start with a season, I would pick Season 3 overall.
I had never seen Daniel Tiger before, my uncles watched it with their daughter, so I gave it a few watches along with a few other TV shows. It was the only TV show at the time that I found to be useful and age appropriate–and seemed to give me and my husband some life lessons as well (mostly the episodes about Frustration, Anger, and Not Getting What You Want).
Emotional intelligence is one of the most useful skills in the modern workplace, and so this fit the bill perfectly.
While he watched one episode a day while I cooked dinner, at 9 months I realized he could separate out words he was hearing and would do the baby sign for “more” and “ideas” whenever they sang, “and I’ll have more ideas for you” at the end. That pretty much sealed the deal for me, and I was pro Daniel Tiger from then on out.
We use Daniel Tiger as an Echo Chamber. It provides a consistent, relatable way to help us communicate with our son through the Tumult of Two. Useful, educational, entertainment.
It’s Almost Time to Stop
Season 3, Episode 8 “It’s time to go”
I use this song frequently–nearly daily, but at least every week. I occasionally have my son re-watch this episode just so it’s just not something mom and appa say. It’s one of the few episodes purchased and downloaded onto his toddler autopilot device (a tablet).
This is used so frequently because we take our son to science centers, libraries, children’s museums, or other locations that we have annual passes to. We chose to do this instead of buying toys, and while that’s been a great choice overall …these places are full of …toys and…well… fun! As a result, our son doesn’t want to leave about 90% of the time and he utilizes his favorite word: NO!
Me: “It’s almost time to *STOP*, so choose one more thing to do”
Me: “What do you choose?”
Son: “I chooo….<train, excavator, ball…etc>!”
< Let him get to a stopping point, ~30 to 60 seconds>
Me: “That was fun, but now it’s done. It’s time to <go home, go to school, go inside.>”
While this song has not failed me yet (knock on wood). I sometimes have to sing “that was fun but now it’s done. It’s time to <go home>.” three or four times. I basically say nothing else to him until we leave.
Sometimes recount all the great fun we had and sing the last line again. Offer up water or crackers for the car ride / walk home, and sing that last line again.
At his most stubborn it’s been a dedication of 5-7 minutes, but not having him throw a giant tantrum in public and come willingly in the end has been a worthwhile endeavor of my quavering voice–and I’ll say, worthwhile for him as well.
Sometimes I’ll also throw in:
Clean up, Pick up, Put Away
Season 3, Episode 2 “Clean Up Time”
This one is pretty self explanatory. My son sings it to himself, and initiates his own clean ups with this song. He’s sometimes told me to put away my shoes by singing this song at me and pointing to “mommy shoes.” I sometimes use this to push along leaving a location place with too many fun things by cleaning them up (books at the library, etc). I’ve seen him sing this at a friend and then tsk when his friend didn’t understand–eventually placing the toy in his friends hand at pointing at the box (his friend received a “good dob” and a hug when he completed said task).
Clean up, pick up, put away
Clean up everyday
Clean up, pick up, put away
Clean up everyday
Pick up your toys off the floor
And put them in your special drawer
Stop, Think and Choose
Season 2, Episode 5
I use this one almost as much as ‘It’s Almost Time to Stop’ and ‘Clean Up, Pick Up, Put Away.’
Stop, Think, and Choose presents my son with two choices. Sand or (inside) Toys. Bed or Books. “We are leaving. Do you want Crackers or Water? Stop, think, and choose. Crackers or Water?”
The only thing is that I HAVE to be okay with either of his choices. This means I need to know my end goal up front. However, it also gives my son some form of control without changing the overall end result. “It’s bedtime. Do you want a Book or Shower first? Stop, think, and choose: Book or Shower?”
My husband doesn’t use this technique effectively most of the time. He’ll often ask Yes and No questions when he only wants to hear a Yes… this ends up with both of them getting very frustrated with each other because neither gets what they want. Do you want to go to bed? NO! You have to go to bed! NO! Do you want to go up the stairs to go to bed? NO! Until my husband just carries him kicking and screaming up the stairs. He’s getting better with it, but has a Yes/No habit when the choice is really only Yes.
I use quite a few other Daniel Tiger techniques, the Goodnight song (replacing Daniel with my son’s name), Quiet in the Library, Hoo hoo. Etc etc. But those are the three I use *a lot* and by that I mean daily or weekly.
A better parent and partner
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has helped both my husband and I become better communicators with each other and at work. Neither of us were particularly emotionally un-intelligent before, but everyone has their unrefined points.
It’s helped us find a communication method with our son that has been mostly successful (…the “you gotta try new food” song has been a resounding failure…). And I can foresee which more-complicated concepts I will likely employ via song when he’s closer to four.
I’ve experienced precisely one toddler meltdown (so far) in public… and considering we frequent restaurants, airplanes, libraries, parks, and grocery stores with our opinionated toddler in tow we’ve had lots of opportunities to practice these principles and have theory flung back in our face in the form of reality. Thank you, for everything you do, Daniel Tiger.