If you told me four years ago that I’d be learning sound parenting advice from a cartoon character on tv, I would have rolled my eyes. To be totally honest, I usually dread the shows and videos my child gravitates towards. I got so tired of her being mesmerized by random families opening toys on YouTube Kids and then asking me 100 times for that toy, I finally deleted YouTube Kids off all our devices (which side note, best thing I did for myself lately). But when she clicks on Disney+ and starts singing, “Da-da-da-daa-da-da-da-da-daa-da-da” (for those of you who watch this show, you know exactly the adorable tune I’m trying to convey), I gleefully enjoy it too and many times, I stop what I’m doing to watch alongside her.
Why I like Bluey so much
It is surprisingly relatable. There are many times I’m watching the 7-minute episode feeling so seen. It’s as if the writer has been sitting in the corner of my home, jotting down notes, and then creating an episode of my life as a parent of a 4-year-old! Besides, who doesn’t love watching a cartoon family of dogs? Bluey models essential qualities and skills that children must develop to have a successful and meaningful life. We need more shows like this showing emotional intelligence because it helps kids learn that emotions are okay and how to manage emotions effectively. Developing higher levels of emotional intelligence benefits kids’ ability to pay attention, develop positive relationships, achieve self-confidence, and work through difficult challenges that inevitably life poses, with empathy while emotionally guiding thinking and actions.
Three essential skills that will help your child succeed
The writers nailed it. It’s incredible to expose children to empathy, kindness, and repair. These are the very soft skills and support developing emotional-intelligence that kids need for success.
Brené Brown has a fantastic clip on empathy; empathy is the ability to feel and understand what someone else is feeling. No one wants to feel alone in their struggles. A great one to watch for empathy is Season 1, Episode 15 (Butterflies) is where Bluey helps her sister, Bingo, not feel so left out and alone.
Kindness is crucial in children’s development for both themselves and others. This kindness helps create a safe and nurturing environment, which extends into the community. In Raegan Hill’s TedTalk on The Power of Kindness, she shares, “Kindness is not only teachable, but contagious.” When you combine the teachable nature of kindness with the fact that kindness has been proven to combat stress and deepen relationships, it’s a life skill that cannot be undervalued. Bluey demonstrates kindness towards Bingo on several occasions.
The skill that I am biased towards, and does not get nearly the attention it deserves, is the skill of repair. In my work as a couples therapist, repair is key to relationship health. According to Dr. John Gottman, a therapist and researcher with more than 40 years’ experience on what makes relationships work, taking responsibility is a key skill to repairing conflict. This not only applies to adult relationships, but can also be said about relationships with children. It’s easier to pinpoint conflict between children, but oftentimes we as parents hurt our children’s feelings and we must have a way to repair that hurt. A beautiful episode that engages the entire family in a repair is Season 2, Episode 1 (Dance Mode). I won’t spoil it for you, but Bingo gets her feelings hurt and you get to witness each family member taking responsibility and repairing their relationship.
Role playing the story lines
Parents of young children, you know that your children play out what they witness. I encourage you to watch Bluey because it is a great show that your kids will role play over and over. Believe me, you’ll be playing the claw vending machine in your living room in no time. Honestly, as an adult, I too, can learn a lot from the messages in these stories, while getting a good laugh and feeling seen as a parent.
Besides watching Bluey, what can you do?
Relationships portrayed on this show are not your typical Disney “happily ever after” out-of-touch endings. They can be real and achievable. Need a little help refining your parenting skills or relating to your children or partner in better ways? Don’t know where to start? Therapy can help. If you’re curious how therapy can help you and your partner co-parent more effectively and affectionately, find a therapist near you. I’m a therapist in AZ and my practice specializes in relationship health—you can find me here.