My toddler is enamored with The Man With the Yellow Hat from Curious George. “Ted,” as he was named in 2006, is a fairly typical millennial dad. A far cry from the original version portrayed in the classic book by H.A. Rey, The Man With the Yellow Hat is an always-present yet free-range father-figure who loves encouraging George’s curiosity and taking care of him like a child. Why do kids love him? Here are five good reasons we parents can learn from.
1. Let your child take the lead
The Man With the Yellow Hat is a scientist by profession so he’s great at noticing when something catches George’s eye. For instance, when George starts dancing at the arrival of warmer weather, Ted decides George needs to learn about spring. Off they go to the park to have a sensory experience of the season, doing everything from smelling flowers to singing songs. Obviously, not every mother is Julie Andrews, but looking at your child instead of your phone (or instead of looking at your child through your phone for the umpteenth Instagram shot of the day) is a great way to notice what they’re interested in, especially before they’re verbal. Remaining mindfully present when parenting can be a challenge, but it’s worth it when it comes to relationship building. And who knows what you might learn along the way?
2. Don’t punish, explain
The Man With the Yellow Hat’s most infamous line is, “GEORGE!” Yet, somehow he always manages to keep his cool when George gets into trouble. Very often he’ll stop and explain what George did wrong, along with how they can work to fix it together. For children in George’s target demographic of 2 – 8, a reprimand requires an explanation. Unless, of course, you want to be the parent whose kid thinks they’re getting screamed at for no reason.
3. Believe in your child even when the experts don’t
Many times George gets sent on missions to assist Ted’s fellow scientists. Invariably, something goes wrong and the scientists are sure they shouldn’t have sent a monkey to do the job. The Man With the Yellow Hat’s faith in George, however, never wavers. He always roots for George, even when it seems like victory is an impossibility. Parents, especially those whose kids are so radically different from their own, can have a tough time supporting their child’s desire to take on a seemingly impossible challenge (example: tone-deaf kid wants to play concert piano, or the shortest kid in his class wants to play basketball). The trick isn’t to teach your kid how to win or lose, it’s proving to them that you’re on their side no matter what.
4. Their freedom doesn’t equal your own
The Man With the Yellow Hat is famous for letting George, a monkey with the communication skills of a toddler, have a lot of personal freedom. This often results in kooky adventures on George’s part, but in one instance George wound up locked in a department store overnight by himself. Ted’s “parenting” skills highlight both the benefits and drawbacks of hardcore free-range parenting, reminding even the most liberal among us that the key to success is balance.
5. Always be ready for a hug
The show opens with George swinging into the arms of his father-figure, The Man With the Yellow Hat. For however excited George is with getting lost in an adventure, he’s always conscious of where his “dad” is and thrilled to return to him for a hug. Hugging isn’t just a sign of attachment between parent and child, it’s a stress-buster known to combat everything from a bad day to the common cold. Children who are regularly hugged by their parents will actually have a better hormonal balance, producing fewer stress hormones that often lead to anxiety and aggression.