5 parenting tips everyone should steal from Daniel Tiger

** I've had a lot of you ask me for specific behavioral strategies and parenting tips to use with Toddlers & Preschoolers. I mean... obviously! They look so cute and innocent at that age, but geez, they can stump us parents sometimes, right?! So, over the next few weeks, starting today, this blog will be focused on the series: "Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers"! If you have any specific parenting dilemmas or questions, for kiddos of any age, feel free to post them on our Raising Smart Cookies facebook page. **

Sometimes I lay down my head at the end of the night, wondering how I got through the stream of preschooler negotiations and toddler tantrums, and I say a little thank you prayer for "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood". Because sometimes I feel like everything I know as a mom I learned from Daniel Tiger.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t learned EVERYTHING I know about parenting by watching "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood". I’ve worked in education for years, have read lots of books and research about children and parenting, have degrees in Psychology, Child Development, and Education, and have been surrounded by a lot of fantastic mommies (my team of “mommy mentors” – including my own wonderful mama), my whole life.

However, with all of this education and background in working with children, I can say with confidence that Daniel Tiger is a really fantastic show. Nobody is paying me to say this, I promise. Although you know where to find me, PBS. ;) I love the show because it makes my job as a mom easier. 

And I don't mean because it gives me 25 free minutes, although that helps.

I'm talking about the lessons taught in the show: the songs, the social strategies, the communication techniques. Although my son hasn’t watched the show in over a year, he continues to use the strategies that he's learned from Daniel Tiger on a daily basis. And so do I. "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" has taught me ways to communicate with my kids and has taught my kids social strategies that have made them better able to navigate big feelings.

When my son is angry and frustrated… there’s a Daniel Tiger song and strategy for that! 

When my son is feeling sad… there’s a Daniel Tiger song for that!

When he was learning to potty… when he struggled with going to bed… a couple of Daniel Tiger songs came to the rescue!

This show, with it’s super catchy songs and brilliant writers (who obviously know a thing or two about child development) has made my home more peaceful. And I think it just might help you too.

So… without any further adieu…


The top 4 Daniel Tiger Songs & Strategies We Use in Our Home

1.     Take a deep breath and count to 4. We use this strategy in our home EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I use it when my son is overcome with strong feelings and having a hard time communicating, is having a tantrum, or becomes physical out of frustration. I use it when he gets over-excited and has a hard time listening. We don't generally sing the song together, but we do practice taking a deep breath and counting to 4, and I love the hand motion that goes along with the song so we always use that as we count. (Watch below to see what I mean.)

Watch a video excerpt here.

2.     It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. My son feels his emotions very strongly. I love this about him and want him to know that feelings are okay, but I also need him to know that feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration will always pass. Because sometimes feelings, for children and adults, are so strong that it feels like we will never feel better. This song does a beautiful job of validating children’s feelings while teaching them that feelings are not forever.

This song has helped my son so much that we now swap out other words for the word “sad.” We will sing… “It’s okay to feel frustrated sometimes...” “It’s okay to feel bored sometimes…” “It’s okay to feel angry sometimes…”

Watch a video excerpt here.

3.     If you have to go potty, stop and go right away! When I was potty training my son, I would hear him singing this song to himself in the bathroom. I will still hear him singing “flush and wash and be on your way!” as he flushes the toilet and washes his hands independently.

Watch a video excerpt here.

4.     Keep trying, you'll get better. I want my kids to be persistent. This song helps me teach them persistence and helps keep them from getting frustrated when they're trying new things. I like to tell my kids, "You're good at doing hard things!" and often follow that up with this little song. 

Watch a video excerpt here. 

5. Saying I'm sorry is the first step, then how can I help? This song is fantastic for helping children develop a true sense of empathy. I very rarely ask my children to say they are sorry to someone (more on that and why in another post later in this series...), but I ALWAYS ask them to "make it better" when they hurt someone. If you want to know more about why this may work better for your kids than a forced apology, check it this article and keep an eye out over the next month for my post on how I handle teaching empathy when my kids hurt someone.

Watch a video excerpt here.

Is there a downside to all of these fantastic songs and social strategies? A negative to consider before implementing these new parenting tricks you have? 


You may find yourself humming Daniel Tiger songs while doing dishes during naptime or singing them in the shower. You may find yourself loudly singing Daniel Tiger, off key, to your screaming child in the middle of Trader Joe's, drawing a crowd of observers. (Not speaking from experience or anything...) You may find yourself speaking to your husband using Mama Tiger’s exact words and he may get super annoyed and call you on it. (Again, not speaking from experience or anything...)

I think it’s worth this small downside. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…


Not sure if you should allow your kids to even watch TV? Read about why I do here.

And about the Family TV Rules we follow in our home here.

And about how I prevent tantrums over TV time here.

Think you have some friends who may want to sing Daniel Tiger songs along with you to your group of smiling, peaceful, non-tantruming toddlers & preschoolers? Or who you think may love to read our new series? Share below. :)

Want to make sure you don't miss any posts from this series? Sign up for our newsletter and get the posts straight to your inbox!