I Need Daniel Tiger As Much As My Toddler Right Now

Coffee and Daniel
By Ashley Heyburn

Daniel Tiger is currently the background music to my life. 


Like many toddlers, my son is obsessed with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the animated T.V. show based on the Neighborhood of Make Believe from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The moment we get downstairs to start breakfast in the morning, my son requests to play his Daniel Tiger album. 

Pre-quarantine life I had a rule: no Daniel Tiger until at least 9 am. For my sanity, I had to make sure I’d had breakfast, was fully caffeinated, and given myself a few moments to feel like an adult by listening to the morning news before I was ready to turn on the toddler-tunes for the day. 

But these days, all rules are out the window, and if it keeps him happy and calm, I will willingly play Daniel Tiger at any hour of the day. 

Under any other circumstance than the shelter-in-place, life-turned-upside-down world we are living in, listening to Daniel Tiger on repeat from the moment my son wakes up until he goes to bed would likely make me feel insane. However, during these unsettling times, I’m finding that having the cheery soundtrack of Daniel Tiger filling our home all day is turning out to be as good for me as it is for my son. (I never thought I’d say that!)

Many of the themes of Daniel Tiger have been created to help toddlers and preschoolers learn how to navigate, understand, and manage their newly-forming big emotions. During these uncharted pandemic times, I also find myself experiencing a daily rollercoaster of new emotions. As a result, the assuring life lessons and upbeat lyrics of Daniel Tiger’s albums have honestly provided ME with great comfort and much needed perspective.

I have particularly found the songs from the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood album Big Feelings to be comforting/helpful this past month. The songs cover emotions such as: 

While the world outside our home is filled with uncertainty, my husband and I are doing the best we can to ensure my son’s world continues to be safe, happy, stable, and consistent. But we aren’t meant to raise our children isolated from the support of others for weeks on end. I’m increasingly aware that we need to be cared for, also!

Today, while I find myself also needing some extra comfort and kind reminders about the basics of managing my emotions, I’m so grateful for child educators, like the Fred Rogers Production, who have created meaningful content for toddlers that I can turn to and rely on, no matter how crazy the events in my own life may be. I’m thankful to have Daniel Tiger as the background music to our days, helping me continue to teach my son important emotional skills and life lessons that will prepare him for whatever post-pandemic future lies ahead.  


Ashley Heyburn
Ashley is a mom to an incredibly active toddler, and wife to a kind-hearted Louisville, KY native. After over a decade living in Brooklyn, NY, and few years in Cincinnati, OH, she recently returned home to KC to plant roots and grow her family. Most days you will find her exploring local parks, libraries and playgroups with her son, and tapping into Kansas Cities great art scene whenever she can.