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Confessions of a Tiger Mom: A Daniel Tiger Mom That is…

My three-year-old son was fighting over a truck with his one-year-old brother.  I did what every good mom does.  I instructed, pleaded, and then finally yelled, “Share!” over and over again at the top of my lungs.  But, it didn’t work. The tug-of-war continued…back and forth…and the situation was about to turn violent… When… all of a sudden… something amazing happened.

My three-year-old gave me a strangely illuminated look.  He {miraculously} let go of the truck and happily said, “You can take a turn, and then I get it back.”

Wait, what just happened???

YES!!!! I squealed with glee on the inside.  Score one for Mommy!  Apparently all of my sharing lectures had made an impact and today, yes, this very day, I could stand proud that my son, not yet even four, understood the concept of sharing.

Victory. It’s so sweet.

And yet, one mystery still stumped me.  I didn’t remember having ever said those exact words.  He seemed to sing them to a little tune.

Hmmm… That’s odd…I didn’t teach him that song.  I wonder who did?

At noon that same day while watching our local PBS station (KERA in Dallas) I found out.

It was a tiger. A tiger taught him that tune.  And, apparently, it was the tiger who taught him how to share.  

Copyright the Fred Rogers Company used with permission.

Daniel takes off his shoes much like the original Mr. Rogers did more than three decades ago. Copyright the Fred Rogers Company used with permission.

Now, I’ll admit it:  I’m a tiger Mom.  Oh, not the kind that makes a toddler practice the violin until her fingers bleed, or a preschooler learn Latin so he can get into Harvard.  No, no, that’s not me at all.

Instead, I love allowing my children to watch this fantastic show called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood everyday before naptime.

In addition to sharing, Daniel has changed the way things go before bedtime (“Bathtime, pjs, brush teeth, story and song and off to bed.”), dinner time (“Try new foods cuz they might taste good.”), and even when my husband and I go out on date nights Daniel’s eased the separation (“Grown ups come back”).  Daniel’s help with potty-training (“When you have to go potty: Stop! And, go right away!”) has also been greatly appreciated.

What is so amazing is how well Daniel’s advice seems to stick.  When my little guy faces any of these scenarios it’s almost odd how happily he quotes his tiger friend –and sings the appropriate jingle to accompany the situation he’s facing.

In fact, just a few days ago we were knee deep in circumstances that had him terribly disappointed. But, instead of crying and sulking because we couldn’t do what we had planned, this same three-year-old astutely pulled out another Daniel-ism, “When something seems bad, turn it around. Find something good.”

Brilliant, eh?  I wish he could recount my advice as easily as he quotes that little cartoon tiger.

So just who is this influential tiger?  He’s new and old, all at the same time.  His show has been on PBS for almost a year now.  But, some of the concepts and characters behind the show are older than I am. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a new take on a show that I watched as a kid where a man named Fred Rogers daily hung up his cardigan sweater, changed his shoes, talked to a trolley, and visited the Land of Make Believe.

And, although the Mr. Rogers isn’t around anymore to host the show, his offspring and the company that bears his name have used some of the concepts from the original Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and created the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood series with the same core principle of teaching children some basic life skills in a calm, friendly and creative way.

Copyright the Fred Rogers Company used with permission.

Copyright the Fred Rogers Company used with permission.

To be honest, I can’t figure out what it is that’s so special about this show.  I don’t know why Daniel Tiger’s lessons seem to have more sticking power than Dora, Mickey, Jake, Handy Manny and Elmo combined.  I think part of the key to Daniel’s success is the way things are repeated, over and over again through different scenarios in the same thirty minute episode.  The pace of the show is slow enough for a preschooler to not be overwhelmed and yet, it keeps his attention beautifully while I try to clean up after lunch or catch up on some laundry (or Facebook, whatever).

As we enter the ridiculously hot days of summer here in Dallas and indoor activities become a necessity, allow me to recommend this great show for your toddlers or preschoolers (truth is my five and six year olds can’t turn away when it’s on either…).  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is on PBS (local station KERA channel 13-1 without cable) at 12pm weekdays.  You can also watch the show online at

Check it out, and let me know if you become a Tiger mom too!

**Do your children have a favorite television show that they actually learn from?  If so, what it is and what have they learned?  Share it here…



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7 Responses to Confessions of a Tiger Mom: A Daniel Tiger Mom That is…

  1. Sarah Farnsworth August 6, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    love this post and i admit, i’m a tiger mom! totally love the show and it’s worked for us just as you described. it’s often as simple as saying “what does daniel say about ____”. she pauses and answers, then changes her approach. if only she’d do that for everything mama teaches her 🙂

  2. Miranda August 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    Yes! We have netflix and I found this show! I love it!! Just like Mr. Rogers and it doesnt teach about fairys and magic which we do not want our little one learning about! 🙂 Love it!!

  3. Jessica August 7, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    Great post! We love Daniel Tiger! The “try new foods cuz they might taste good” jingle is heard almost daily in our house!

  4. Angie July 30, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    I’m a tiger mom my son sleeps with a tiggie and ugga mugga is our goodbye and goodnight. I love this show it has helpped me and my 3 year old son so much

  5. Mommy July 1, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    Oh good! I thought I was the only one. I was speaking to my sister on my cell phone in the car one day. I don’t even remember what I said, but my 3yo chimed in from the back seat, “remember what Daniel tiger says, mama! If you’re frustrated, take a step back and ask for help.” I was in shock! Haha!

    Just last night we were talking to him about acting out when he gets jealous of his baby brother. I asked him if he wanted to watch the DT episode about jealousy. He perked up and started talking about paper airplanes. I dismissed it as 3yo jabber, but quickly realized that the DT episode about jealousy is centered around paper airplanes. How on earth could he have remembered that?!?!

    I’ll also add that the potty saying is what finally made potty training click for my son, and it also helps establish good habits, “flush and wash and be on your way.”

  6. Mommy July 1, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    I’ll also add that all 5 seasons are available on Amazon Prime right now.

  7. Heidi February 14, 2016 at 1:08 am #

    The reason that this show is so special is the creator, Angela Santomero. She is the creator of the long-time running and highly revered show Blues Clues (which also has roots in repetition). Her background in children developmental psychology I think is what makes her so great at what she does. It wouldn’t surprise me if Daniel Tiger runs for a long time.

    And of course it has its roots in the work of Fred Rogers 🙂 Its very nostalgic for many parents!!

    My little one is too little to repeat some of the stuff she hears, but she is mesmerized every time she watches it!!


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