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 (36 Posts)

Kelly Bartlett is the author of "Encouraging Words For Kids" and "Help! My Child is Addicted to Screens (Yikes! So Am I.)" She is an API leader and Certified Positive Discipline Educator in Portland Oregon.


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