10 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' Lessons Every Kid Needs To Hear
The world is pretty much in full agreement that Fred Rogers was a remarkable man, and nothing short of a sage in a crimson cardigan. An educator and TV host with the most soothing voice ever, he left us with so many wise nuggets about how to be better humans, and plenty of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood lessons I want my own kid to learn.
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was groundbreaking when it first aired — one of the first kids' shows to actually treat kids like, well, people. Rogers dedicated his life to helping children get a handle on life's bigger themes... things like love, relationships, our emotions, and of course, the importance of comfortable footwear.
In some ways, Mr. Rogers almost seemed too good to be true. I mean is anyone really that nice? The answers appears to be yes. Don't believe me? Check out the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor, which I guarantee will make you sob in such a way that your husband raises his eyebrows and shifts uncomfortably on the couch, thereby forcing you to hiss-scream at him that he clearly missed everything Mr. Rogers just said about feelings never being bad!
Anyway, here are some of my favorite bits of Mr. Rogers wisdom. Though I admit it was hard to choose, as the man thew out a lot of gems.
1. You are important.
"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet — how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."
This quote never fails to make me tear up. Every child should know that they matter to the world, and that they have an impact — even if it might not seem like it.
2. Don't be afraid to talk about the hard stuff.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
Mr. Rogers addressed everything from divorce to racism to death on his show. He reminds us that nothing is too big to talk about, no matter how confusing and scary.
3. Feelings aren't something to fear.
"Everyone has lots of ways of feeling. And all those ways of feeling are fine. It's what we do with our feelings that matter in this life."
Feelings can sometimes seem overwhelming. Or embarrassing. Or confusing. And that is totally normal and fine. I feel like this is especially important to impart to our sons, as boys are so often conditioned to bury their emotions.
4. Imagination is an amazing thing.
With his "Land of Make Believe," Mr. Rogers emphasized the power of imagination and the magic of creativity. Be curious about the world. Ask questions. And don't be afraid to dream big.
Also, this remix of his "Garden of the Mind" song is a total jam.
5. You are in control of your own anger.
"I can stop when I want to, can stop when I wish... can stop stop stop anytiiiiime!"
Anger is such a big emotion, and the loss of control can feel quite scary for kids. If you haven't heard Mr. Rogers sing about how to reign it in when feeling furious, I highly recommend giving it a watch. Maybe I'll try blasting it the next time my kid goes ballistic because he can't get the LEGO together the right way...
6. Even in the darkest of moments, there are good people to be found.
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
This quote is passed around regularly on social media, and for good reason — it's a reminder to us that even in the midst of great tragedy and fear, kindness and compassion can still be found.
7. To truly love someone (and ourselves) is to accept that no one is perfect.
"When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is —the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way."
I love this quote so much, because it reminds us to not only be accepting of the flaws of others, but to cut ourselves a break as well.
8. Sometimes, the best way to be a friend is to simply listen.
“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”
This feels like such a simple lesson, but it's an incredibly important one, and one I think adults should also regularly be reminded of. There isn't an answer for everything, and everything doesn't need to be fixed. Sometimes, people just need to have someone sit with them and listen.
9. Everyone is fancy in their own way.
"There is something fancy about every creature in our world. And there's something fine about each one of us, too. Each person, each fish, each animal, each bird, each living creature. The important thing is to look for what's fine in everybody."
There is beauty to be found in everyone, and we should try to find the good in everyone we meet. Even the jerks.
10. It's all about the love.
"As you grow, I trust that you are finding many more ways to show and tell people that you love them. Those are the most important things that you’ll ever learn to do. Because loving people, animals, and the world we all live in is the most important part of being alive."
So, so beautiful. And now I'm tearing up again. Which of course is totally fine, because feelings are A-OK!