What Would Daniel Tiger Say? A Mom’s Guide to Social and Emotional Learning


Kids are little humans with big emotions. Can I get an Amen?! Helping them navigate the ups and downs that childhood brings can be exhausting. But, I have a secret weapon when it comes to social and emotional learning: Daniel Tiger!!

This PBS show is a spin-off of my own childhood classic, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Go ahead and call it cheesy. Sometimes it honestly is. But I don’t care.

Daniel Tiger is a master at social and emotional learning (SEL).

This was a phrase I wasn’t familiar with until the pandemic, when three of my four kiddos were participating in virtual learning. Their school uses a curriculum called Move This World, and I overheard it every day! No really. It was every day.

Anyway, the program uses short videos that talk all about emotions and how to process them (and much more). I loved it. My kids, not so much. And I get it. It’s kinda weird to voice your concerns and put a name to what you’re feeling.

However, once you put a name to your wild emotions, you take back the power, instead of letting them rule over you. And in my house, more often than not, emotions are the ones in charge!

Social and Emotional Learning

According to ThinkTV and PBS, the six core competencies of SEL are:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Management
  3. Social Awareness
  4. Relationship Skills
  5. Responsible Decision-Making
  6. Future Self

Ummm..let me just go ahead and raise my hand that I’ve had more parent-fails in these categories than I care to admit. Who else is with me?

Parenting is hard. Dealing with emotional outbursts is exhausting. It seems like someone is always crying. Sometimes it’s the kids. Sometimes it’s me!

Helping our kids (and ourselves) work through and gain control of their emotions is a win-win. It’s good for the short-term (less fighting, more cooperation), and it will help them immensely in the long-term as they move toward responsibility and independence.

What Would Daniel Tiger Say?

The three big kids are back in school this year (hallelujah!), and I’m at home with just one little one. I actually get a chance to breathe every now and then, AND, he’s young enough that I can still fully control what he watches! My two-year-old LOVES Daniel Tiger. Why? Because I love Daniel Tiger.

He will seriously do almost anything if I tell him he can watch Daniel Tiger. And the songs are so catchy! They certainly get stuck in my head. I’m starting to think they even have a calming effect on me!

I won’t lie, sometimes I even make up things that Daniel Tiger would do in a certain situation to help sway my kids and their decision-making. Follow me for more #momhacks!

SEL with Daniel Tiger

But seriously, don’t we — as parents — need a little back-up when it comes to helping our kids navigate their way through their very strong emotions? I know I do. And Daniel Tiger is my go-to.

He growls when he’s mad and stomps his foot when he’s frustrated. He wants his own way, but he’s learning to apologize when he’s wrong. He’s sometimes selfish, but with a little guidance, he’ll give someone else a turn.

We all need a little Daniel Tiger (AKA social and emotional learning) in our lives.

So, sing along with me, if you know the tune! If not, check out this Daniel Tiger Episode Library from PBS and introduce your little ones to a fan-favorite from our house.

  • (When you’re overwhelmed with emotions) Sometimes we feel two feelings at the same time and that’s okay.
  • (When someone else doesn’t like what you like) We like different things, and that’s just fine…remember to be kind.
  • (When you’re scared) Close your eyes and think of something happy. Think think think about your favorite things. Close your eyes and think of something happy and you won’t be afraid.
  • (When you’re in a new place) Wherever you go, you can find something you know, to help you feel better.
  • (When you don’t get what you want) Everyone’s job is important. We all help in different ways.

Daniel Tiger may not work for your big kids (I keep trying with mine…), but I encourage you to find other resources that will help them put words to their feelings and, in turn, take back control of their emotions.


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