Growing in Grace, Motherhood

Lessons from Daniel Tiger

“Grown-ups come back.”

“Find a way to play together.”

“If you have to go potty, stop and go right away.”

If you’re currently a parent of toddlers, you will know the melodies that accompany the lyrics above from our favorite friendly jungle animal. Each day, my daughter jumps out of her bed after naptime—excited for a cup of goldfish and a journey on Trolly to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Daniel Tiger has helped us manage our anger, learn how to share, and try new foods. While not the most interesting of shows for an adult, I don’t mind watching it with her—learning the simple tunes to help us next time we face a challenge.

She spills her milk at lunch, we sing, “If you make a mistake, try to fix it and learn from it, too.”

She refuses to turn over a toy her brother wants, we sing, “First you get a turn, and then I’ll get it back.”

She’s on the cusp of a tantrum, face turning red, we sing, “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath, and count to four.”

In the heat of tears and screams, the easily remembered refrain brings peace and comfort. When her emotions are too high for logical conversations, these melodic principles remind her of what she knows to be true.

This practice of rehearsing truth isn’t only helpful for toddlers, but for us as adults, as well.

No, I’m not saying you should memorize a song to help you remember to go to the bathroom or are afraid of the doctor. But we do face situations where our emotions are too high or our thinking is too clouded, and we need truths planted deep within us to provide a firm foundation when it feels like we’re sinking. When we hide God’s Word in our hearts—meditating on passages before suffering or temptation strikes—we have an arsenal of truth to speak to our hearts and our minds when we need it most.

When my children disobey and I feel self-righteous anger simmering beneath the surface, I’m reminded of God’s character. “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8).

When I receive bad news and my mind races with worse case scenarios, I remember, “The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:5b-6).

When my carefully made plans fall apart, and I wonder how any good can come out of a hard situation, the Holy Spirit reminds me, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).

When my day feels hopeless, when I feel like I can’t hold everything together, these words fill me with hope, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

When things don’t go my way and I’m tempted to wallow in selfishness and pity, these words point me Christ, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:4-5).

When I’m wondering why God’s Word matters—how it can truly make a difference in my everyday life—my eyes are drawn upward to Christ, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

The words that I repeat over myself will be the words that I remember in times of hardship. Will they be the words of podcasts, songs, and books (which can be beneficial)? Or will the words that sustain me be the words of God given to me in Scripture? What words will I choose to plant in my memory like the Daniel’s jingles root themselves in my daughter’s toddler brain?

We don’t have to wait until we face a trial to learn what God’s Word say, just like I don’t wait until my daughter throws a tantrum to show her a Daniel Tiger episode about anger. Like I rehearse the songs with her, we rehearse God’s truth—hiding his Word in our hearts so that the truth is there when we need.

It may seem pointless to meditate and memorize verses early in the morning when your heart is quiet and your mind is calm, but the seeds of truth you sow in the morning will bear fruit in the evening when the house is noisy and your heart and mind are frazzled. Jen Wilkin reminds us, “Read the Bible repetitively. What we repeat in times of ease, we will recall in times of hardship.”

As I daily remind my daughter of truths—ranging from God loves her to the importance of cleaning up her room—I remember that there are truths I need to be reminded of, too.

Need some tips on how to get started with Scripture memorization? In previous blog posts, my sister and I shared about how we incorporate the spiritual discipline of scripture memory into our everyday lives.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “True”.

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4 thoughts on “Lessons from Daniel Tiger”

  1. Pingback: A Part of Who I Am

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