For some children, being a generous giver and a gracious receiver are natural. But other children may need more time and more help from us … When we show children we care about their feelings and that we enjoy giving and receiving, we help them understand how much we receive when we give and how much we give when we receive.
– Fred Rogers
Since I mostly use the television as a babysitter, I am only partially aware of what Cora is being exposed to when she’s watching. This is definitely at the top of parenting guilt list, but it’s just the way things go around here sometimes as I try to be a full-time mom and part-time professor. This week, we discovered the PBS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on Netflix.
From what I picked up in passing and from my perch at the kitchen table, I liked the way Daniel addressed real life topics that were age-appropriate and that the music wasn’t too terrible. I even recognized the theme song as a throw-back to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which I can remember watching as a child and even made reference to in my dissertation. Curious, I turned to The New York Times (my trusted source for great television reviews) and found a nice background story that outlined the connection between the two programs. As it turns out, Daniel Tiger is an intentional reincarnation, cooked up by the same people that brought us Mister Rogers.
I love the fact that the main objective of these shows is social-emotional development as opposed to mastery of the ABCs and 123s. Parents can read more about this on the program website, including timeless quotations from Fred Rogers like the one at the top of this post. Talking about feelings isn’t easy for anyone, let alone an almost 3-year old. While Cora hasn’t seen Mister Roger’s yet, Daniel seems to be reaching her in some powerful ways. In the past week I’ve caught her singing a song about stopping to look both ways before you cross the street and playing school with her dolls, both direct outgrowths of what she’s seen on the show. These are pertinent topics for her to consider at this time – she’s been spending lots of time riding her tricycle around our neighborhood this summer and is anxiously awaiting a bit of preschool in the fall.
All this was great, but I was sold when I heard Daniel singing “Making something’s one way to say, I love you.” Regular readers know I am a big fan of anything handmade and that I’m working to instill that love in my kids (see, for example, Crafty Cora and My Step-Monster’s Kitchen). But it wasn’t just the song. As Daniel made a card to send to his father to show him that he loved him, Cora got out some paper and crayons and announced she was making a drawing for her dad. While I helped her write a few letters and open a drawer or two, she was nearly on her own for this one. I was amazed to listen to her talk about what she wanted to do and to use skills we’d practiced in the past but hadn’t utilized in awhile. Nothing short of amazing. As was the love she was expressing for her dad. I only wish he’d been home to see and hear it.