{GUEST POST} Wife of a Musician: Co-Parenting with Daniel Tiger

Today’s guest post is written by my lovely wife Eleanor. Eleanor is a high school history teacher in Orange County, California and an amateur singer, guitar player, and ukulele player. Make sure you check out her other guest posts here.

Image Source . No copyright infringement intended.

Image Source. No copyright infringement intended.

If you are the parent of a preschooler, there’s a good chance you have heard of a magical show called “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” If you don’t know, this is a show based on a character in “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.”

At first viewing I was immediately turned off by the extremely bright colors and animation style, which I can only describe as at attempt to animate book illustrations with real life textures. However, if you like me look at Daniel Tiger and despair, stick it out. Within the first ten minutes, Daniel Tiger became my most valuable parenting resource.

Ugga Mugga to you too, Daniel!

Ugga Mugga to you too, Daniel!

Here’s how.

Each episode is set up to teach a central lesson, with two short episodes focused on the same topic. How does Daniel Tiger teach these lessons? Through song.

Short, catchy little songs. Songs my three year old sings daily. Songs that help him be a good human.

Music is so powerful for small children, and I’ve found it to be a powerful tool in parenting and discipline as well. Here are the Daniel Tiger songs we sing most frequently to help my three year old behave more like a human and less like a wild animal:

When something seems bad, turn it around, and find something good!

This was the first episode we ever watched and sure enough, disappointment hit us only an hour after watching this. In desperation to prevent a tantrum I said (a Hail Mary), “what does Daniel Tiger day when something seems bad?”

Sure enough, Noah sang the song, and the magic of Daniel Tiger had begun.

When you have to go potty, stop and go right away! Flush and wash and be on your way!

It’s as if divine providence sends me Daniel Tiger in my time of greatest need. Noah had backslid on potty training, getting lazy and having a couple of accidents after being dry for six months. When this episode began it was potty training magic. Noah went with renewed enthusiasm, and I still sing “flush and wash” almost every time he goes to great success.

We’ve gotta try new food ‘cuz it might taste good!

We have sung this many times over meals (specifically dinners at my parents’ house), and it finally seems to be working. At a recent family dinner, I encouraged my son to try a sauteed onion and he sang this little song, declared that he liked it, and said he didn’t want any more. Small victories I guess!

If you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four!

We actually discovered this song by playing with a Daniel Tiger toy at Target (once again, Target proves to be the best of all the big box stores). Noah heard this song and immediately started singing it. Trying to make him leave put this song immediately to the test, and singing the song at him only works about half the time (the other half it makes him madder), but it’s a work in progress.

You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back!

This song I only know exists because one morning my children were (as usual) beginning to squabble over a toy. Noah is significantly larger and more rough than Emma, but Emma has teeth and know how to use them, so breaking up arguments quickly is key to avoiding a trip to urgent care. Anyway, when I encouraged Noah to share, he sang this little song and gave the toy to Emma. It was nothing short of miraculous. Sorry for the poor quality video on this one.

Grownups come back!

This is another one that I didn’t actually see myself, but Noah sang at me when I talked about dropping him off for trampoline camp for four hours. He was still upset, but he went, and the song came in handy again when we went away for a night for our anniversary. And really, how can anyone not see poor Miss Elaina fret over he parents going away and not think of their own kids left at home?

Unfortunately, this song doesn’t universally work. My son has just discovered the concept of death, and the “grownups come back” song doesn’t exactly work for that discussion. I think death may be even too dark a topic for Daniel Tiger.

So there you have it. Daniel Tiger is basically a third parent to my son. I have no shame. Like I’ve said, music is powerful, and Daniel Tiger is the sometimes a better parent than I am.


To get any of the above works transcribed, please email me at john@zechiel.com or visit Zechiel Music Transcription for a quote!