Fred Rogers, the beloved host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, had a 9-step set of rules for communicating with children – And they are remarkably effective.
Keep scrolling to read more about the incredible TV host, and to read his set of rules for effectively talking to young children for yourself.
The host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rodgers undeniably had a gift with children that most of us could only dream of.
But, by the following year, he was co-producing a new program, The Children’s Corner.
This allowed Rogers, who’d fallen in love with puppetry as a child, to introduce some of his favorite puppets from his home to his young audience.
So it was only right that he was given the opportunity to host his own children’s TV show.
In the early 60s, Rogers made his first appearance as “Mister Rogers” on a show called Misterogers…
But this was to become the groundwork for the look and approach for Rogers’ later show.
He earned his divinity degree in 1962, and at his ordination, the Presbyterian Church asked him to serve children and families through television.
Thus, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was born.
The show would run for over 4 decades and attracted many celebrity guests over the years.
Rogers himself would also go on to win several awards, including 4 Daytime Emmys, a 1997 Lifetime Achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and, in 2002, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Rogers was praised for approaching his young audience with respect and a directness about issues children faced that were rarely touched on by other programs.
In 1968, he served as chairman of a White House forum on child development and the mass media and was often consulted as an expert or witness on those issues.
And it turns out that he had his own set of rules to effectively establish these interactions.
Admittedly, not all of us were born with Rogers’ natural gift with children.
Arthur Greenwald, a former producer of the show, said to The Atlantic, “There were no accidents on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
He took great pains not to mislead or confuse children, and his team of writers joked that his on-air manner of speaking amounted to a distinct language they called “Freddish.”
Greenwald recalled a scene in a hospital where a nurse was inflating a blood-pressure cuff originally with the line, “I’m going to blow this up.”
He said, “Fred made us redub the line, saying, ‘I’m going to puff this up with some air,’ because ‘blow it up’ might sound like there’s an explosion, and he didn’t want the kids to cover their ears and miss what would happen next.”
And his simple 9-step rule will help the rest of us to better understand how to effectively communicate with our children.
Keep scrolling to read the steps for yourself…
For example, “It is dangerous to play in the road.”
Anything that may have a negative connotation can be rephrased to sound a little less stern. For example, “It is safer to play in the garden.”
Introduce figures who they know and trust in the scenario, such as, “Ask your parents where it is safe to play.”
For this stage, the instructive word “ask” could be dropped, changing the sentence to, “Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.”
For example, remove “will” and rephrase to, “Your parents can tell you where it’s safe to play.”
Different children come from different circumstances, so phrase whatever you are saying accordingly.
For example, those who don’t have any parents may respond better to, “Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it’s safe to play.”
Following on from your instructions, it is important to reiterate what you are saying with something positive and motivational.
For example, “Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it’s safe to play. It is good to listen to them.”
“Good” represents a value judgment, so your instruction could then be rephrased to, “Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.”
The final sentence should then be rephrased to, “Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.”
But parenting isn’t always this easy.
Keep scrolling to read some of the best tweets from exasperated parents…