In praise of Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood


Image shows five of the main characters of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

We love this show in our house! Roland references the episodes often.  I’ve been able to talk him down from a tantrum by asking what Daniel Tiger does when he gets frustrated, and then singing the song with him (“when you feel so mad that you wanna ROAR, take a deep breath, and count to four”).

When Juliette was Roland’s age, before she was very verbal, she would use bits of Daniel Tiger scripts or songs to communicate different needs or emotions, for example, singing the potty song to alert us that she had to go.  We just had to pay attention to what she was scripting, and figure out the significance of it in her current situation.

I was reading something recently that described Daniel Tiger episodes as basically “social stories,” which, if you’ve never heard that term, are stories of a particular situation or activity, which include specific information about what to expect and/or how to behave in that situation, and why. I would definitely agree with that comparison.

In each Daniel Tiger episode, a different situation is introduced, for example, what should one do when a baby sibling messes up their toys, and then it’s reinforced repeatedly throughout the episode using a short, catchy song (“when a baby makes things different, find a way to make things fun!”) That’s just one example of many.

I’m truly not surprised to see that research shows that toddlers who watch Daniel Tiger have stronger social and emotional development.  It has really helped my kids learn to navigate various social situations, and deal with big emotions.  I would highly recommend this show for any small child, whether they are autistic or neurotypical.

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