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Bandit's Blueprint: Nurturing Positive Father-Child Communication with Bluey

Positive Masculinity Contributor - Drew Sanson

Content Writer for Positive Masculinity, English BA Graduate, and Cat Mom of 3

Bluey is a popular Australian children’s show that follows the everyday life of the Heeler family: Bandit, Chili, and their young daughters Bluey and Bingo. The show not only explores the complex dynamics of family life, but also cultivates a strong sense of creativity and imagination. Contrary to what many would assume, however, Bluey has managed to provide a lot of thoughtful insight for young kids and parents. More specifically, the way Bandit communicates with Bluey and Bingo is a valuable model for fathers seeking to cultivate positive relationships with their children. 

If you’ve ever struggled to reinforce your bond with your child, or if you feel your fathering techniques could use some polishing, you’ve come to the right blog post! Here are the top four lessons that fathers can learn from Bandit Heeler:

  1. Bandit Allows His Daughters to Express Their Emotions

One of the most amazing things about Bandit is his ability to empathize with his daughters regardless of their feelings. Bluey, a six-year-old, and Bingo, four, navigate a wide spectrum of emotional experiences typical for children of that age group. Throughout Bluey, there are many moments where either Bluey or Bingo become angry, frustrated, or sad and don’t know how to process their emotions. 

Bandit and Chili are building their children's emotional intelligence by allowing Bluey and Bingo to feel their negative emotions and work through them rather than bottling them up. As a father, your first instinct might be to shut down your child’s big feelings. What you might not know, however, is that “[w]hen a child learns to express her feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, etc… [it] leads to a healthier pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving, which in turn leads to good physical health and well-being” (Dilip). 

A perfect example of this is in the episode titled “Bike.” In this episode, Bluey gets frustrated because she can’t get the hang of learning how to ride a bike and wants to quit trying. At this moment, Bandit could have disregarded how Bluey was feeling, but instead, he had her sit next to him so they could observe the other children in the park struggling to complete various activities. He uses their struggles to teach Bluey the beauty and value of perseverance, and in the end, Bluey can get back up and try riding her bike again.

2. Bandit Encourages His Daughters to Set Healthy Boundaries

One episode of Bluey that sticks out, in particular, is called “Yoga Ball.” In this episode, Bandit is playing with his daughters but realizes that the way he roughouses with Bluey is a bit too much for Bingo. At first, Bingo is a bit nervous about confronting her dad about the issue but is encouraged by her mother to talk to him about it. As he was being confronted, it would have been straightforward for Bandit to deflect the blame and tell Bingo to get over it; she was being too dramatic, or even that he did nothing wrong. Instead, he apologizes and allows her to set a safeword (her big girl bark), which acts as a way for him to tell when he’s playing too rough with her. 

Allowing children to set boundaries is an important way to help them prosper in future relationships. Colleen Kessler, an expert in special education and author of several parenting books, weighs in on allowing children to set boundaries: “We create an environment that fosters trust, validation, and emotional well-being…” Additionally, she says that “[u]nderstanding boundaries is… important for our children’s emotional growth… [and e] encouraging open communication and celebrating the strength it takes to set boundaries ensures that our children grow up with a strong sense of self-worth and mutual respect.”

Many adults, myself included, had no idea how to set boundaries when the time came to put them in place. I had to build the courage to set boundaries only after getting hurt. Even now, asserting clear boundaries and sticking to them is something I struggle with. Had I been allowed to practice boundary-making as a child, I would not be as uncomfortable as I am today. 

3. Bandit is Always Committed to the Bit

In almost every instance of imaginative play, Bandit is always willing to go along with whatever Bluey and Bingo have come up with. While many may find it embarrassing to continue this type of play in public settings, Bandit never shies away from going along with his daughters' plans. From a fathering perspective, engaging in play with your children is extremely important to their development. 

Bandit is always ready to jump into playtime with his daughters; there are so many instances that I can’t list them all here. One of the episodes that stands out to me, though, is called “Rug Island”. In this episode, the girls unleash their creativity in the backyard with a pack of felt pens, turning it into their own island. In his typical fashion, Bandit embraces the imaginative play and joins in on the fun. 

If you feel more comfortable watching your child play from the sidelines rather than jumping in, why is that? Is it because they have siblings to play with? Or maybe because you feel too busy with work or other responsibilities? Regardless of what the reason is, your child will appreciate the gesture, and it will deepen your connection with them. “Playing with kids builds a bond that will last forever. It lets the child know he or she is loved and appreciated. It opens the door for sharing problems and concerns when the need arises. It helps the parent get to know and understand the uniqueness of each child. It is also a great stress reducer for overworked parents” (Child Development Institute).

4. Bandit is Willing to Own up to His Mistakes

No parent can always be perfect, and that’s okay. However, when parents mess up, many are afraid to apologize after the fact. “Historically, parents have been afraid that saying, ‘I'm sorry,’ makes them look weak or takes away their authority. On the contrary, it actually makes parents look strong. It shows they care enough to take responsibility for their negative actions and make amends. Furthermore, children get the crucial message that their parents do not want to hurt their feelings—they are loved” (Wallace). 

Although he can be a bit of a sore loser occasionally, Bandit acknowledges his imperfections. In the episode “Dance Mode,” Bandit eats Bingo’s last french fry, assuming she doesn’t want it. Understandably, Bingo was very upset by this. This might not seem like a big deal to many, but research shows that apologizing when you mess up is extremely important and that children have an intrinsic need to validate their emotions. “Children have a wide range of emotions, and they can be unpredictable, and when parents say, ‘it’s not a big deal,’ they are minimizing what their child is going through. [P]arents technically imply that their child’s feelings are wrong, or even worse, that they don’t matter. This can lead children to grow to hide their feelings because they believe that it is not ok to get upset over certain things, which may not aid in healthy mental health” (Wehrli). 

Bandit apologizes for eating Bingo’s last french fry and does his best to make it up to her on her terms to validate her feelings about the situation. This not only improves Bingo’s trust and overall bond with Bandit, but it will allow Bingo to thrive in her future relationships because she will know the validity of her feelings.

In Bluey, we find a children’s show and a blueprint for fostering positive father-child communication. Bandit’s approach teaches us the importance of active listening, playfulness, and genuine connection, among other essential things. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether or not you’re doing a “good enough job.” I enthusiastically encourage any father figure facing the challenges of parenting to explore the world of Bluey, as it can ignite inspiration for you to be the best version of yourself as a parent. There is always something new to learn about being a parent, and all fathers should want to actively hone their techniques to give their children the best possible future. 

Works Cited

Dilip, Mina. “Why Expressing Emotions Is Healthy For Your Child.” Parent Circle.

Kessler, Colleen. “Helping Our Kids Set Healthy Boundaries.” Raising Lifelong Learners, April 10 2023.

“Playing With Your Child.” Child Development Institute.

Wallace (LSCW), Meri. “Should Parents Apologize?” Psychology Today, 17 May 2021.

Wehrli, Ashley. “It's Not A Big Deal" Is In Fact A Big Deal To Kids, Here's Why It Matters.”, 18 February 2021.

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1 Comment

Hi Drew, the insights and lessons that you highlighted from the children's show, Bluey are genuiely the secret of building of maintaining healthy relationship in this modern world. Not only applying to parenting, adults and teens should also learn how to set boundaries, confronting, develop their emotional intelligence and respect their feelings and those of others. Thank you for your inspiring and beautiful story! 😻

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