The Man in The Yellow Hat Exemplifies Positive Discipline

by Kelly Bartlett on December 12, 2011

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A few of my parent friends have pointed out that as much as their kids enjoy watching the PBS show “Curious George”, George always gets into trouble (makes a mess, does something wrong, doesn’t stay where he’s supposed to, etc…) and nothing ever happens to him for it.  He never gets punished or has a privilege taken away or a consequence imposed for his actions. This may bother some parents about “Curious George,” saying that the show is not setting a good example for kids about what what should happen in the face of misbehavior, but I happen to think it’s a great example for parents.

Curious George does exactly what he’s supposed to do for his age and development (and species)!  By nature and by name, he is curious.  He explores his world fully and completely. This is his job as a young, continually developing little person, er, monkey. This is why my kids love the show–they relate so well to George’s genuinely curious nature and all of the honest mistakes that ensue. But, as a parent, what I find most refreshing about “Curious George” is The Man in the Yellow Hat.

The Man in the Yellow Hat never punishes George for his mistakes. He is more concerned with solving the problem. The man helps George put things away, fix things that broke, apologize to people who were involved in any indiscretions, and generally restore order.

The Man in the Yellow Hat doesn’t force George to apologize. Of course, George can’t talk, so maybe that’s why! But George’s body language and expression, along with his cooperation in fixing the problem, is more meaningful than a forced “Sor-ry,” anyway. People can see his remorse and feel his desire to set things right again. George’s inability to speak provides an unwitting platform for making genuine apologies.

The Man in the Yellow Hat will give a heartfelt apology on George’s behalf.  And when he does, the apologizee says it’s not necessary. The mistake has been fixed, and they enjoyed George’s authenticity–his curious nature–and appreciated his spirit. The characters in this show are understanding of George’s developmental capabilities.

The Man in the Yellow Hat doesn’t put fear into George. George is never afraid of what The Man will do or say to him when he finds out  what happened while he was gone. George is able to present his problem to The Man and know that he will get help in return.

Now, if only The Man in the Yellow Hat would learn not to leave George unsupervised as often as he does…

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Kelly Bartlett (35 Posts)

Kelly Bartlett is the author of "Encouraging Words For Kids". She is an API leader, Certified Positive Discipline Educator, and freelance writer with a focus on child development, family relationships, and discipline. Follow her blog at Parenting From Scratch.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Janine @ Alternative Housewife December 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Nothing to say other than I love this post!

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MaMammalia December 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Great post! Your description of positive discipline through Curious George is so simple and straightforward I’m going to share this on FB. I wish it was as easy to put into practice all the time :)

I haven’t seen the Curious George TV show before (we don’t have TV), but I am definitely going to try to find it on DVD. There are so few programs that illustrate this type of parent-child interaction. I think it will do us both some good!

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Sharron December 13, 2011 at 6:35 am

Love it! I’ve never thought too hard about why I love this show. We do have TV, but not cable, so PBS it is. We also enjoy reading the original books. And yes, he does get a great deal of freedom for such a little monkey! I will pay more attention to the “grownups” in the show from now on.

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RB January 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

This is such a great example, and a great visual to go with trying to explain attachment/gentle parenting to others. Thanks!

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Jess February 12, 2013 at 10:11 am

Wow, I find this very interesting! I wonder if my children would respond to that sort of discipline. I’ve never quite understood how it works, but I’ve seen plenty of Curious George… Thanks for the perspective! Made me think :)

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Doug July 15, 2013 at 11:38 am

It’s an example of a perfect parent raising a genius monkey who learns concepts after a single or second example shown to him. It’s an ideal that is quite difficult to live up to.

It’s great for keeping the attention of kids who have no idea about real world frustration with their true often misbehavior. And while it does teach valuable academic lessons, it does not account for children who are not as curious or willing to correct their mistakes as the brilliant monkey who figures out math and logistics problems often on his own through trial and error.

Fortunately for him , the man with the Yellow hat doesn’t have my kids… And unfortunately for my kids , they don’t have the man with the yellow hat

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James August 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

now that explains why my kids do what they do from watching CG. Looks like I have some learning to do from this show…

THANKS

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