The Unexpected Way I Healed My Childhood Trauma — And I’m Not The Only One

Bluey with her family.

I’m a 29-year-old who watches “Bluey.”

Alright, hear me out. It’s really not that weird. I only watch it when I’m in need of a pick-me-up after a terrible, no good, very bad day.

In all honesty, I didn’t even expect to like the show when I first put it on in January 2023. I was searching for something mindless to listen to as I dozed in and out of sleep during my recovery from wisdom tooth surgery. Instead, I found myself healing my inner child by watching an anthropomorphic blue heeler puppy, Bluey.

Full of curiosity with an endless imagination, Bluey and her little sister, Bingo, find new ways to entertain themselves while learning about life, family and happiness. From crafting a world that doesn’t talk down to kids to making childless adults feel heard and validated, “Bluey” is the epitome of what a comfort show is, no matter your age. It’ll teach you to be unafraid of playfulness, to reconnect with your inner child, and stand up for yourself.

It turns out I’m not the only one who has found the show an unexpected way to heal childhood wounds. Screenwriter Aiko Hilkinger says she started watching the show during a time in her life when she was doing a lot of inner child work.

“My first impression was this deep, almost grief, that settled in my stomach as I contemplated just how different my life would’ve been if I had grown up with this show,” Hilkinger tells HuffPost. She describes the show as a form of gentle parenting where the parents teach their children how to have fun, self-regulate, and communicate their emotions. “Here I was in my 20s learning to do things that my parents had never even bothered to teach me or acknowledge by four Australian cartoon dogs.”

Dr. Tamara Soles, psychologist and director of The Secure Child in Montreal, Canada, says many adults have told her that watching “Bluey” has made them better parents by providing positive parenting models for them to use.

“For some though, watching adult characters in children’s shows allows them to have a corrective experience,” Dr. Soles tells HuffPost. “They may not have had adults who were as emotionally attuned as many of the adults in children’s shows. Exploring universal themes as well as a wide range of emotions, children’s shows often validate emotional experiences, and provide a way for so many of us as adults to be seen and to reflect on our own emotional responses.”

While Dr. Soles says there are no significant disadvantages to watching well-made children’s TV shows as an adult, she notes there may be some stigma attached to the activity. Still, that shouldn’t put anyone off watching things that bring them joy.

Adam Marquis, a 40-year-old tutor and stay-at-home parent, said he first began watching “Bluey” with the younger set of his five children. In addition to the quality of the show, he says the show has strong writers who deeply understand children.

“Many writers fall into the trap of modeling kids as less-smart adults which just isn’t accurate. Children are quite smart, and are well adapted to their job of growing up,” he explains. “You can see the writers’ familiarity with children in the little details, too, the child characters’ play is full of the same realistic quick turns and nonsense illogical jumps that shows up in real life kids’ play.”

He was especially impressed by the show’s acknowledgment of asking children to do very difficult things, noting that he doesn’t believe he’s seen a children’s show do so since “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.”

“Bluey’s parents show a great deal of radical compassion for their daughters, and I think any parent could benefit from more often earnestly telling their children that their job is hard. It’s nice to see the model of parenting that I aspire to depicted on screen,” Marquis said.

In addition to relatable themes for parents and non-parents, Dr. Soles says watching children’s TV shows like “Bluey” can provide an escape from the complexities of everyday adult life.

Particularly for adults who are strongly emotionally impacted by the myriad atrocities around the world, watching a short children’s show with a clear morale and ethically-guided adults, can be a healing respite for many. Watching high-quality children’s programming is like entering a world that feels calm and simple,” she says.

For MFA student Olivia Piraino, 25, she first began watching the show two years ago with her nieces. At first she ignored it, merely putting it on as background noise, but once she started paying attention, Piraino was hooked.

“More than anything, watching ‘Bluey’ has been a cathartic experience for me,” Piraino tells HuffPost. “Getting to vicariously experience respectful parenting through Bluey and Bingo has healed parts of me that I didn’t know needed healing.”

From episodes that touch upon the realities of aging parents and infertility to coping with mental health issues while still showing up for your children, Piraino says she’s learned a lot, especially from Bluey’s parents, Chili and Bandit. In many ways, she feels validated by the show’s authentic depiction of adulthood with and without kids.

“Honestly, there is just as much, if not more, for adults to learn from “Bluey” as there is for kids. Episodes like “Mums and Dads,” “Octopus” and “Wild Girls” teach us the importance of compromise in preserving relationships and that we should prioritize those relationships over having things ‘our way.’ And episodes like ‘Bike’ and ‘Handstand’ remind us that getting good at something takes practice and patience.”

Hilkinger echoes Piraino’s sentiment, stressing the capabilities of the “Bluey” writers, producers and animators.

“It is a phenomenal example of outstanding craft,” Hilkinger said. “Each episode is seven minutes long. Think about that for a second. Seven minutes. As a writer and storyteller, the show helped open my eyes to just how much could be done with seven minutes of screen time.”

Most of all, “Bluey” will teach you how to be kind to yourself, even during your darkest, roughest days.

As Hilkinger says: “If Bingo can do it, why can’t I?”

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