The Peppa Pig series once received a lot of backlash, blaming Peppa for apparently teaching her viewers naughty behavior.
To be fair, she does call her father silly and the whole family does tease and laugh at daddy pig’s overweight body. And then there’s the fact that Peppa’s parents practice what one might label as laissez-faire parenting, a parenting style characterized by its permissiveness, whereby “parents avoid providing guidance and discipline, make no demands for maturity, and impose few controls on their child’s behavior”. Indeed, Peppa and her brother George are allowed to jump in muddy puddles as much as they want to and to express themselves however they wish— it’s therefore very true that Peppa is always very much herself (“blah, blah, blah, that’s how daddies talk”), with her habit of making borderline rude remarks and bossing others around here and there throughout the show.
But as someone who has watched many episodes of Peppa pig, there are gorgeous things about Peppa’s family worth appreciating and modeling after, which those judgmental of the show do not see. For one, Peppa is a very confident little pig! She thrives and looks forward to every day…
Without further ado, here are 9 rare magnificent things about Peppa and her family, or more specifically, things that Peppa has, which make her who she is and make up parenting lessons worthy of our attention.
1. Savoring everyday moments is key
…to a quality life. It’s not just Peppa but the entire family that enjoys the everyday. Like people of Danish culture , they know how to cherish what life has to offer: which is not just work but also finding pleasure in interacting with others, in doing all sorts of novel activities together, and in the mundane (jumping in puddles, making food, going on car rides, going on picnics, befriending animals, learning). In fact, embracing your daily life as being composed of many aspects that involve not just working and learning but playing and social interaction helps make work enjoyable too, because after all, one would not be able to withstand playing and relaxing all the time, either, and thus a balance is created.
2. Being attentive is so in
If you ask me, Peppa’s parents Mommy and Daddy pig might just be the cartoon world’s most present parents ever. They mirror their children’s moment-to-moment state of being and internal experience and actually respond, very generously, to Peppa and George’s frustrations and joys, ups and downs.
“But Mommy and Daddy pig treat Peppa like a queen!”, you may argue.
Here’s a simple answer to that: the show is about Peppa, which explains why some may perceive her as being spoiled, when really, she just happens to be the main character. That’s also why Peppa’s parents are simply mommy and daddy to the audience; they exist in connection to Peppa.
Truly, the show is all about how a pig toddler experiences her daily life, and along the way, her parents are there to support her, which they do a good job at! They reflect Peppa’s emotions, paraphrase, and ask a lot more than they instruct, lecture, make a negative judgment or scold, just as mental health workers have been trained to do .
As a result, Peppa learns to ask as many questions as she likes and develops a positive sense of self and a strong sense of being able to make things happen (“environmental mastery”), internalizing and modeling after her kind and forgiving parents.
3. Do spend quality time as a family
Her parents actually join in her plethora of activities, and boy— isn’t she always doing something as a growing toddler, whether it’s tea-time with Peppa’s favorite spider, muddy-puddle-jumping, searching for their misplaced toys, or having a go at Daddy Pig’s video camera, and so much more.
The point is that Mommy and Daddy pig do not hesitate to spend time with their children, oftentimes letting them take the lead too. Indeed, nurturing close bonds with one’s children by being mentally and emotionally present when with them has been shown to lead to better well-being in children, including physical well-being .
4. Tolerance is too underrated
Mommy and Daddy pig love their children. They don’t judge their children’s behaviors. They understand that mistakes are a normal part of life. They tolerate cheekiness and they tolerate Peppa’s need to feel unique and special, so they avoid ridiculing and instead show support whenever Peppa feels proud of something (“ I taught him (her baby cousin) to say it (his first-word puddle)!” Her parents smile on). Unlike a lot of parents, they show love and affection even though Peppa does not really achieve anything that would make your jaw drop. Without a doubt, Peppa’s parents are open to what Peppa has to offer and in turn, also offer Peppa something she might need.
They accept Peppa’s desire for autonomy in doing everyday things, perhaps because they are aware of the research finding that autonomy, or a sense of independence, is highly correlated with psychological well-being. In fact, along with autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance are well-known as the six dimensions of psychological well-being.
5. Being your best self is all you need to be
Parents don’t have to be perfect. In fact, that’s exactly what Donald Winnicott meant when he coined the term ‘good enough parent’, referring to the idea that parents simply have to show up as their imperfect selves, so that their children learn that life does not center around them nor must people conform to all of their needs all the time. That way, children develop a sense of healthy disappointment early on, which will buffer them being defeated by their frustrations as a result of their unrealistic expectations .
However, being a good enough parent also entails showing up even when doing so feels threatening to oneself— perhaps because the behaviors exhibited by one’s child resembles what one has tried to suppress in oneself as a child, for example. Indeed, it sounds simple but being good enough also means being able to tell when one has been mentally disturbed, making sense of why it affects oneself to such an extent and in such a way, and proceeding to console oneself enough so that responding to one’s child becomes a less unconscious and reactive phenomenon. By doing so, parents become more conscious of how they impact their children, allowing co-regulation to take place in the form of honest conversations, which indirectly leads to in-the-moment problem-solving .
How does this relate to Peppa’s parents? They don’t disengage from their children when uncomfortable topics arise. As an example, everyone in their household agrees that Peppa’s father has a weight issue that can be quite debilitating for him at times, which is why Peppa and her mother encourage him to exercise. In this case, Peppa’s father is able to take their advice instead of personalizing it for a long period of time.
Besides dealing with personal disappointments, Peppa’s parents try to help their children with their own disappointments, whether it’s by normalizing laughter or by accepting accidents and guiding them in resolving everyday problems: When Peppa’s brother George’s dinosaur ice lolly melts, Peppa’s mother doesn’t scold, nor does she say things such as “I told you to eat it quickly, now see what has happened! Next time be more careful”; instead, she says:
“Nevermind George, you can share daddy’s ice cream. I’m sure he won’t mind”. In another similar scene, Peppa accidentally splashes mud onto the car they had just finished cleaning. How does daddy pig react? “Nevermind, we can use the garden hose to clean it off”.
The point is that responding in kinder and more helpful ways in difficult and unpleasant situations is only possible when parents are in their best shape emotionally…
6. Manage your own insecurities and worries first
Since Peppa’s parents try to be present in engaging with their children, it indirectly makes it harder for their minds to dwell in the future. As a result, it becomes easier for them to give Peppa and her brother the opportunity to be themselves and to make mistakes, since they aren’t too focused on how today will impact tomorrow, so to speak.
In addition, when parents make conscious effort in regulating their own anxiety, it reduces the likelihood that parents will engage in behaviors such as threatening, warning, shaming, guilt-tripping, raging or restricting (such as in helicopter parenting) their children, permitting not just growth but also exploration and a sense of fun and autonomy to take place . Research has shown, for instance, that parents who are more socially anxious are likely to come in the way of their children’s opportunities for socializing with peers . The hard truth is that children do internalize the types of anxieties their parents have, and this is turn limits them from showing up as their most authentic self and from doing what they want to do. Estranged from themselves, these kinds of children usually grow up trying very hard to make their parents proud, but at a cost to their own sense of fulfillment and esteem.
7. Lead with grace
Instead of lecturing and instructing them one-sidedly, mommy and daddy pig (what Peppa’s parents are called in the show) include Peppa and her brother George in house chores and other activities such as car-washing, cooking, and grocery shopping. What’s more, when they want Peppa to do something (all of which are for the benefit of their own children), they cleverly entice Peppa and George into doing what they want them to do instead of guilt-tripping, shaming, or threatening angrily. As an example, take the following scene, where Peppa is taking too long in the toilet having fun brushing her teeth which is causing her to go to bed later: her mother doesn’t label her as being stubborn or silly, and instead simply ‘redirects’ her to do what she expects of Peppa:
Peppa: I think our teeth need a bit more cleaning. (she and George are reluctant to go to bed as they are enjoying brushing their teeth)
Mommy Pig: When you’re in bed, Daddy pig will read you a story.
Redirecting just means channeling everyone’s focus to something affirmative, such as what you do want to have happen (something you do want them to do), instead of making comments about what they’re doing that’s upsetting you . Redirecting remains a useful tool for parents in disciplining their children with less fuss.
Furthermore, Peppa’s parents observe the entire context of the situation and their children’s intentions in each situation before interfering with unempathetic instructions, which allows them to tailor their support according to Peppa and George’s unique personalities, age, and to whatever unique challenging situation they find themselves to be in. In a way, it’s akin to something psychologists call scaffolding, whereby adults provide step-by-step guidance and support towards helping children learn or do something, more specifically by providing encouraging questions and helpful demonstrations and prompts, the idea being that it’s important to build confidence and independence in learning to do anything, and that all children have their own ways of learning and doing things that should be respected (versus forcing children to go at the parent or teacher’s pace) .
Hence, ‘lead with grace’ here just signifies how dealing with children can be more effective when one’s response is tailored to an enhanced understanding (versus labeling and judgment) of children due to the acknowledgement that children do have their own minds and a spirit of inclusivity.
9. Let the whole village raise your child
Being the opposite of omnipotence that they are, Peppa’s parents appreciate other helpful influences on their children. They believe Peppa and George should learn from other people, including other adults in their lives, as testified by their active involvement in school activities and their frequent visits to their grandparents’ place. As a result, Peppa and George develop positive interactions with all sorts of people within their community which gives them a kind of wisdom and mindset that’s necessary to develop into productive members of society. In fact, there’s research that found that children at risk for mental health problems can be helped to be more resilient by forming trusting bonds with multiple adults, in which the involvement of other adults also alleviates parenting stress and reduces overall maltreatment a child receives .
Peppa pig is definitely a show that’s equally as praiseworthy (for the way it portrays how children should be treated) as it is entertaining: The effects of such good treatment of children has a multiplier effect, whereby a peaceful community that thrives on a sense of togetherness is created.
And when an environment is created in which everyone is encouraged to be their kind, thoughtful, and relational selves, it’s not only parenting that becomes more bearable, but other life duties too, and then eventually, doing life itself feels easier.
Let’s hope these 9 rare parenting lessons from this children’s hit show continue to inspire children and parents alike. Without a doubt, Peppa pig has something to offer everyone, especially to those with families. And that’s all of us.
Written by :
Lifelong Learner and Mental Health Counselor
Alumni of Boston University, USA, and University of Malaya, Malaysia