Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a sweet cartoon about a tiger cub navigating the tricky world of preschool. This Mr. Rogers spin-off is a fan favorite in our house. I get nostalgic seeing all the old characters from the Mr. Roger’s of my youth, while my kids enjoy the cute, updated cartoon and catchy songs.
I credit this little red sweater-wearing tiger with the jingles that encouraged my children to use the potty (“If you have to go potty, stop and go right away!“), accept their babysitter (“Grown ups come back,..“) and eat their peas and carrots (“Try a new food, cause it might taste good.“).
Now, researchers are giving us one more reason to sing Daniel’s praises. A new study from Texas Tech University suggests watching Daniel Tiger may also contribute to better social skills (specifically, greater self-efficacy, meaning more confidence in their social skills), higher levels of empathy and increased emotional recognition. But, before we all turn on the TV and celebrate, there is a catch. Only those kids whose parents actively watched and engaged with them about the content saw these benefits.
So, parents can use educational, age-appropriate television like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood as one tool for teaching important social and emotional skills. But, the lessons must be reinforced through regular parent involvement.
Daniel is good, but he can’t do it alone.