Parents of young children can likely sing “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” songs in their sleep. Maybe you have, on those particularly exhausting mornings when you’re trying to parent while running on no sleep (thank you Daniel Tiger for taking care of my kids when election night coverage kept us up until 4:30 a.m.).
The incredible thing about Daniel Tiger isn’t just that it’s a cartoon based on our generation’s wisest sage, Mister Rogers. It’s a blueprint for parenting calm, reasonable, and empathetic children. Research even indicates that Daniel Tiger helps children develop social and emotional skills.
If you’ve ever watched this show with your children and then suggested they listen to Daniel Tiger’s advice in real life, you know this is true. I’m not sure our family could have survived potty training without it (“Honey, what does Daniel Tiger say about going to the potty? Stop and go right away!”). Every Daniel Tiger episode contains two storylines with an overarching theme. It features a learning goal, and an accompanying (and incredibly catchy) short song to help children remember the lessons of the show.
This morning, I was singing a Daniel Tiger song about calming down with my toddler, while watching the news about hyperbolic Trump protestors. It occurred to me that the individuals in our society most needing Daniel Tiger’s wisdom aren’t toddlers. They’re the grown men and women chanting “Not My President” on the streets of major urban areas around the country.
After watching Daniel Tiger for the last two years (we started when my daughter turned one), I’ve even began to internalize some of his wisdom. Several weeks ago on an infuriating business call, I hung up, about to throw my phone against the wall. My toddler reminded me of the anger management strategies of her Tiger best friend: “When you feel so mad that you want to ROAR, Take a deep breath and count to four. 1…2…3…4…” It really does work.
For those of you devastated liberals without toddlers in the home, I’d like to share with you a few other pearls of Tiger wisdom to help you get through this post-election season with some semblance of sanity:
1. ‘Stop, Think, and Choose!’
Stop, reconsider your current strategy, and choose an alternative. You might want to begin thinking about saving the Senate seats you have up for reelection in 2018. Eight of these seats are in states Trump won—and if the country is in decent condition in two years, those are going to be hard seats to retain. Politico warns of a potential disaster. How can you win those seats? Going through the streets calling voters racist, sexist, and homophobic didn’t work out incredibly well in 2016. Maybe, just maybe, that strategy should be revisited.
2. ‘When Something Seems Bad, Turn It Around, and Find Something Good!’
What could you be doing right now instead of rioting in the streets? And what good can you accomplish instead?
Focus on your personal life: find love and have kids (they do wonders for helping find greater meaning in times of trouble). Volunteer for the needy. Take up a hobby, like knitting gloves for the homeless. There is plenty of good to find in this country—go find it.
3. ‘Find a Way to Play Together!’ and ‘Work Together! If You Can’t Do It Alone, Work Together!’
With Republicans controlling the House, Senate, White House, and potentially the Supreme Court, it’s time for Democrats to learn an important skill: cooperation. No longer can executive orders be slammed through, or Obamacare passed without popular consent. If the country is going to survive, it’s time for politicians on both sides to find a way to play together.
4. ‘You Can Take a Turn, and Then I’ll Get It Back.’
With majorities in every major branch of government, why should Republicans care about trying to work with their Democratic counterparts? Majorities have a way of disappearing, and once Republicans are done having a turn, Democrats are going to get it back.
5. ‘See What It Is. You Might Feel Better.’
After the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, there were no protests or demonstrations of any kind. When I made this observation on Twitter, hundreds of liberals retorted with “but the Tea Party!”
The Tea Party was a response to actual policies and actions of the Obama administration. Before taking to the streets about President Trump, see what he actually does. You might feel better.
6. ‘Think About How Someone Else Is Feeling.’
Why did half of America vote for Donald Trump? Are they all really racist, sexist, homophobic bigots? What about the voters in swing states who voted for the first black president and then Donald Trump?
Think about how the rest of America is feeling. If you find you cannot understand why your fellow Americans would vote in a different way, think about how someone else is feeling. This from Ben Domenech is a good starting point for those trying to understand what drove Trump voters.
7. ‘Close Your Eyes and Think of Something Happy,’ ‘Give a Squeeze Nice and Slow, Take a Deep Breath and Let It Go,’ and ‘It’s Okay to Feel Sad Sometimes; Little by Little You’ll Feel Better.’
When all else fails, Daniel Tiger has some great coping strategies for managing “big” feelings so they don’t turn into tantrums. Give them a try.