How These Childhood TV Shows Secretly Taught You Adulthood Essentials

by Jessica Wendroff

Television shows in the 90s occupied a massive chunk of Gen-Y’s adolescence. These shows were our electronic babysitters who made us laugh, learn and fall in love with characters and repetitive plots on a daily basis.

As children, we were too busy focusing on the entertainment value of the shows to ever realize how the programs were secretly informative and equipped us with essential skills for adulthood.

Here are a few ways these seven popular children shows helped sculpt us into functioning adults:

"Blue's Clues"

Blue taught us that if something is lost, it can always be found and that finding it is an adventure in itself.

The team used rationality to find missing objects and decode concepts. Instead of relying on emotions, Blue and Steve taught us to deliberate.

The duo modeled how to take a step back from a situation, sit in “our thinking chair and think, think, think.” In adulthood, we often need to take a moment to reflect and piece events together before taking action.

This instance is especially valid when it comes to making important life decisions, like accepting a job offer or evaluating whether you want to begin or exit a relationship.

Overall, "Blue’s Clues" illustrated how, if used correctly, the mind is the key to unlocking many exciting doors and adventures.

"The Powerpuff Girls"

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup made it apparent that kicking ass at an occupation while attending school is no easy task.

They were often shown suffering from sleep-deprivation and struggling to stay awake in class.

The girls might have been made out of sugar, spice and everything nice, but even they couldn’t sugarcoat exhaustion from school and work, which are the onerous burdens that many college students face.

In life, children replace school and the feeling of being drained becomes a constant. However, despite trying circumstances, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup set positive examples for viewers by relieving stress through productive and healthy mediums.

For instance, Blossom enjoyed reading, Buttercup perfected fighting techniques and Bubbles colored and played with dolls during her free time.

In turn, viewers learned to deal with stress in healthy ways, and most likely became adults who mimicked the Powerpuff Girls’ behaviors.

When Gen-Y turns to expressive outlets, like writing, painting, drawing and exercising to alleviate pressures from work and school, they might do so as a result of watching "The Powerpuff Girls" during their youth.


"Rugrats" unlocked our imaginations and opened our minds. Their eccentricity taught us to think outside of the box — or in this case, outside of the playpen.

They could always inspire viewers by designing unique ways to have fun, even on the dullest of days. More importantly, the gang helped audience members accept different types of people.

Tommy showed us that even weirdos, bossypants and scaredy cats can become your besties. Audience members accepted that people’s attitudes, crazy red hair and strange habits are what make them special.

"Rugrats" also gave children a subtle preview of the horrifying reality that adults don’t always have all of life's answers.

An example of this can be seen when Stu Pickles, Tommy’s father, is shown making pudding at 4 am while confessing to his wife, Didi, that he lost control of his life.

However, Stu, just like the babies, repeatedly displayed that as long as you have the love and support of your family and friends, you can regain your footing and surmount any obstacle.

After all, a baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do — which is a motto that has never been truer in the adult world.

"Dora the Explorer"

On top of teaching us Spanish, Dora taught us how to set goals. For every goal she ideated, she devised a plan to achieve said goal.

She never overwhelmed herself with the big picture of her mission; instead, she compartmentalized and focused on taking things one step at a time.

She aimed at getting from Point A to Point B before ever worrying about Point Z. Then, through a song, she would calmly repeat her goal over and over again to motivate and remind herself why she started out on her quest in the first place.

As an adult, repeating a goal to yourself is conducive to accomplishment; doing so reminds and assures you of why you are trying to complete a task.

Dora also set forth to show us that setbacks happen, but when they do, she shrugs them off with the mindset that you just have to deal with what life throws at you.

For example, Swiper, that assh*le fox with a blue bandana, would usually come and steal something from Dora. In spite of this, she never threw a tantrum or gave up.

Instead, she just sucked it up and adjusted her plan accordingly. All things considered, Dora had a flair for simplifying life. She tackled one ambition at a time, instructed us to do the same and urged us to stay focused and goal-oriented.

"Hey Arnold"

The football head repeatedly introduced us to compromise. He was a natural leader and problem solver. He expertly diffused disputes within his crew by coming up with suggestions that met each party halfway.

Arnold also proved that true leaders can handle any situation at any age. He was always the happy mediator, even among the adults in his boarding house.

For instance, when Arnold’s grandpa wanted to sell the boarding house, all of the board mates sought out Arnold for guidance and assistance.

He never let those who needed him down and taught us to be brave and stand tall, even when we are odd-looking, the shortest in the bunch or wearing a kilt.

"Dexter's Laboratory"

Dexter showed us how to be patient when dealing with closed-minded or idiotic people. Viewers constantly saw the boy genius almost rip his hair out as a result of relentless aggravation his nuisance sister, Dee Dee, caused.

Again and again, Dexter attempted to ignore Dee Dee’s taunts and continued working on his experiments. The same scenario often occurs in the workplace.

You can’t always choose whom you work with or who surrounds you in the office, but like Dexter, you can try to personify patience and disregard people’s distractive efforts and/or ignorant ways to the best of your abilities.

"The Magic School Bus"

Ms. Frizzle painted education in wacky colors. Her outfits always coordinated with her lesson plans and her exotic teaching methods ultimately revealed how firsthand experience trumps any textbook.

With Ms. Frizzle, we found that every day is an opportunity to learn and that you can gain a world of knowledge outside of the classroom.

In this way, we learned that a degree as an adult is not the completion of an education, but instead, a ticket to independently advance your education.

In turn, "The Magic School Bus" imparted the greatest lesson of all: The world is not only your playground, but also your study hall.

All of the entertaining programs discussed above have imprinted many morals and values on Gen-Y through each episode.

The shows have taught us key elements to adulthood, like how to think rationally, to relieve stress in healthy ways, to accept people for who they are, to set and achieve goals, to be leaders, to exercise patience and to use our minds and imagination outside of academic settings.

Without their presence in our young lives, who knows how different we might be as adults today?