Since their introduction, Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends have chugged their way into the hearts of young fans and their parents worldwide. While learning railroading terms and laughing at the antics of mischievous freight cars, kids learn many positive character traits.
Every engine in the yard aims to be “a really useful engine”. It is some of the highest praise they can earn, and it teaches children to value hard work and pulling their fair share in a job. When they rejoice with Thomas and friends when they finally earn this praise from Sir Topham Hatt, children get excited and want to try for themselves. They look for their own ways to be “really useful engines.” Wise parents nurture this tendency by giving them child-size tasks that really make a difference about the house and telling them so when they’ve completed the job.
Obeying common sense and listening to others’ advice is another trait highlighted in Thomas the Tank Engine stories. Small children reenact these stories with Thomas and friends, repeating to themselves, “Silly Thomas, he should have listened,” and very painlessly internalize a lesson every parent wants their children to take to heart: Listen to good advice! It will save you a lot of pain and trouble.
Good manners and a good attitude are also modeled by these cheerful little engines and the people who work with them. Thomas and friends tell one another good morning, thank one another for help, and are respectful of their drivers and Sir Topham Hatt. The lessons in politeness are all the stronger because it’s just a “given” on the island of Sodor. If you are an upstanding engine, you speak politely to others.
And punctuality! Each engine strives to be “right on time” and works very hard to avoid being late. This is such an important character trait for children to develop. Whether it’s getting ready for school or piano practice, punctuality is important and is reinforced by the knowledge that every little engine strives to be “right on time.”
The response of the engines to newcomers helps children understand the importance of kindness in welcoming others and being glad for the “new kid” and his contributions. Having watched Thomas and friends work through initial uncertainties and misunderstandings and become good friends with new engines, children see how they should respond in friendship to newcomers in their peer group. Friendliness is a character trait you will see children practicing in their role play with Thomas play toys.
Another lesson, too, is dealing with difficult personalities. Even the best of engines have fits of petulancy, and some trucks and diesels in particular seem always to have a chip on their shoulder. For Thomas the Tank Engine and for his friends, this poses the lesson of how to deal with difficult people. Percy for instance, finds a creative way to teach mischievous trucks a lesson, modeling resourcefulness and a willingness to stand up for him. Children need to learn this too, that there are some difficult people in the world and it sometimes takes creativity and determination to work with them, and to thwart the trouble they may cause.
Thomas the Tank engine stories and play toys stand out as very popular children’s series that actually teaches many positive character traits in a completely wholesome environment. Parents appreciate that Thomas and friends are both hardworking AND polite. They are resourceful and even heroic, and at the same time they’re respectful. They stand up for themselves when faced with difficult peers, but they learn to listen to sensible advice from those in authority. Sometimes this can be a rare combination of character traits in a children’s series these days! If you’re looking to build character, with toys and stories that small children love, check out Thomas and friends! You’re sure to be impressed.