There was something about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that stood out for me as a child. The genuinely honest way that Fred Rogers conveyed his lessons really made me want to listen, and I still refer back to his advice as an adult. The show stood far above other kids’ shows, covering common social and emotional topics like bullying, divorce, and even death. As a parent, I’m inspired to use his calm and respectful approach with my own kids, as hard as it may be. There are truly some meaningful parenting lessons from Mister Rogers to implement in our own homes and honestly, it may make all the difference.
This year marks the 50-year anniversary of the television debut of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the show’s sensitive approach and valuable lessons have proved to be timeless, and seem to be more relevant today than ever. With all the chaos and noise in the world today, your kids can benefit from the Mister Rogers’ style of parenting, which comes from a place of compassion and mutual respect.
Parenting isn’t easy, and there will be times when you just want to pull your hair out. But if you can remember Fred Rogers’ calming voice, and how it made you feel as a child, you might be able to take a page out of his book and talk to your kids in an encouraging way.
1. Teach Your Kids To Appreciate
With all the ups and downs kids face, it’s easy for them to forget how good they have it (this goes for some adults, too). The opening lines of every episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood were “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood” and “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day.” As a parent, it’s important to teach your kids to live in the now and appreciate all that they have — this life, their family, and their home — even if some things aren’t working out. When your kids are down, you can always remind them about this beautiful day, life, and love that they still have to be excited about.
2. Compassion Is Your Most Valuable Tool
No matter what the lesson is, if you can talk to your child with kindness and compassion, not only will they listen, they will also learn to be compassionate people. In the World According To Mister Rogers - Important Things To Remember, Fred Rogers wrote, ““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.”
3. Your Child Is Perfect, Just The Way They Are
One of the best parenting lessons you can take from Mister Rogers is that you should always deal with your child from a place of acceptance. He writes in the World According To Mister Rogers - Important Things To Remember, “Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
4. It Takes Strength To Confront Feelings of Sadness & Anger
It’s not easy for anyone to talk about their sadness or anger, especially children. Mister Rogers found that talking about these feelings makes it easier to deal with the problem. In the World According To Mister Rogers - Important Things To Remember, he writes, "Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it."
5. Teach Your Kids The Importance of Learning
Teaching children how to love learning is something that Mister Rogers emphasized often in his lessons. You can talk to your kids about the value of keeping an open mind, questioning things around them, and using the information they find in a valuable way. The Fred Rogers Center mentioned his quote: “Imagining something may be the first step in making it happen, but it takes the real time and real efforts of real people to learn things, make things, turn thoughts into deeds or visions into inventions.”
6. Teach Them The Value of Forgiveness
Holding grudges can be torturous to the soul, so teaching your kids the value of forgiveness early can help them be happier people in the long run. In his book, World According To Mister Rogers - Important Things To Remember, he noted, "Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life's important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives."
7. Teach Them To Pull Others Up With Them
Anyone can get consumed with winning and succeeding, but Mister Rogers emphasized the value of sticking around to help pull others up too. The Fred Rogers Center noted his quote: “What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.”
8. Instill Discipline & Routine
Routine can be comforting for a child, because they know what to expect. At the beginning of every episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers would come home, take off and hang his coat, change his sweater, and change his shoes. It was a benign routine, but it was familiar and reassuring. The Fred Rogers Center noted his insightful advice for parents: “Children feel safer when they know what the rules are.”
9. Teach Your Kids To Connect & Help
It seems that despite all the social media platforms, people are getting less connected to their community. Teach your child the value of reaching out to neighbors and offering help to people in need. The Fred Rogers Center mentioned this quote from Mister Rogers: “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors — in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.