Daniel Tiger Made Me a Better Mom


Two-year-olds can seriously be the worst. Right?! They’re demanding and don’t have reasoning skills yet and heaven help us all if they’re strong willed.

Once upon a time I had a two-year-old and a newborn and I was slowly but surely losing my mind. Then we discovered Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids and I watched Mom Tiger with her endless patience and kindness and I felt like the biggest failure, and the worst mom, in the whole wide world.

Daniel Tiger Made Me a Better Mom

I was neither. I was, however, exceptionally hard on myself and insanely sleep deprived.

Then one day I was nursing the baby and my toddler was enjoying his Daniel Tiger time. The show drove my spouse mad, and he often said he didn’t know how I put up with it, but I grew up on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and nostalgia fortified my annoyed-at-kid’s-television reserves.

All of the sudden, I heard Mom Tiger say something that kind of changed my life:

“I am so MAD.”

Whoa. Perfect Mama Tiger said what? My head snapped up from the book I was reading while nursing. Had I heard that right? Then she sings the calm-down song. Of course she does. But Mom Tiger just got mad at Daniel for making a mess! 

I immediately felt this weight release from my chest. 

It’s okay to feel human emotions, even when you’re a mom.

NO ONE is actually perfect.

I shouldn’t be comparing myself to a fictional character.

I know it sounds silly now, but in the throes of two-under-three, in a new city, where I didn’t know anyone, I was terribly lonely. I didn’t have any mom friends nearby, and so I had no one to tell me I was holding myself to an impossible standard. I didn’t just compare my parenting to Mom Tiger’s and fall short; I compared my parenting to everyone’s because I had no idea what I was doing. I read the books and the blogs and observed people in public and watched Daniel Tiger. But Mom Tiger’s mad moment snapped me out of my fog and brought me back to reality.

Something else happened in Mom Tiger’s mad moment. I realized I needed to own my feelings, so my kids could learn to own their feelings. So instead of seething angrily and then hiding in the bathroom feeling guilty about being mad at my kid, I could label it. I can say, “I’m mad. This is why. I’m going to sing a silly song to help me refocus and calm down.” Now I’ve been doing it for years, and it helps my kids understand more complex emotions, which helps them recenter when they’re upset.

PBS Kids is apparently aiming for the kid audience and the parent audience. They know we’re watching, too. They’re teaching kids that everyone, even their own parents, has feelings they have to work to control. They teach appropriate ways to react. 

Want to see Mom Tiger’s Mad moment for yourself? PBS Kids has the clip available here.

Has a kid’s TV show ever changed your perspective?

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Hey, y’all! I’m an adventurous wanderer who put down roots here in East Tennessee back in 2014. My little family moved here from the wilds of suburban Alaska in 2014. We love exploring Knoxville and the surrounding areas, especially the Smoky Mountains. I’m a freelance writer and teacher who loves looking at the mountains when my nose isn’t in a book. I’m a mom to two bookish kids, a wildly clingy dog, two cats, and a fish I’d be in trouble for not mentioning. Since becoming a mom, I’ve been able to add Lincoln Log architect, LEGO contractor, and mediator to my resume. I’ve always been a bit of a jack of all trades, as I’ve been a tutor, teacher, circus instructor, bookseller, amateur baker and, of course, writer. I remind myself of this as I tell my kid not to sit on my other kid’s head while stopping the dog from chasing the cat and the other cat from jumping on top of the fish tank. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and am currently pursing my Master of Fine Arts while keeping all these creatures who live in my house alive. I survive on coffee, writing fiction, reading, Disney, and snuggles. You can read more of my work at www.pawprintsinthesink.com.


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