week 30: this week i'm gonna... teach children about kindness
“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor – would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be… my neighbor!”
For anyone who grew up in the 1970’s, ‘80’s, or ‘90’s, those timeless lyrics from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood are a reminder of a TV show that taught us about kindness, caring, and how to be a good friend. Fred Rogers made children feel like he cared about each and every one of them.
“One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self," he once said.
The love and sincerity that Mr. Rogers brought to his work have carried on beyond his death (in 2003) and still influence children of all ages today. In 2012, an animated series titled Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood debuted based on a character from the original program. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood channels the wise, kind and nourishing lessons of Fred Rogers through Daniel Tiger, a relatable preschooler who has memorable songs for handling things like disappointment, frustration, anger or fear of the unknown. He is also big on skills like turn-taking, cooperation, problem-solving and empathy.
For Yousef, a 7-year old boy with autism, Daniel Tiger represents more than just a TV character. He is a friend, teacher and role model. He is a partner in navigating a confusing web of social interactions and norms. Like many children with autism, Yousef struggles to make sense of the world's unspoken social codes. His mother, Rasha, spent thousands of dollars on therapies and countless hours at trial-and-error playdates before she discovered Daniel Tiger and his jingles about sharing and trying new things. It was Daniel who finally got through.
Founded in 1971, The Fred Rogers Company strives to build on Fred Rogers' legacy by creating quality children's media that models an enthusiasm for learning and earns the trust of parents and caregivers.
See more about The Fred Rogers Company and its founder in the video below.
Daniel Tiger has become a second language in Rasha and Yousef’s house. “You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back,” Yousef sings to his younger brother, trying to persuade him to hand over a bike. Or, when leaving the park - “It’s almost time to stop, so choose one more thing to do.”
Above all, Daniel Tiger has given Rasha an opening to reach Yousef on the larger issues he grapples with, such as not getting discouraged when facing a difficult task. Rasha’s family recently moved and their new playground had curved monkey bars – a challenge Yousef hadn’t come across before. Every time he would reach the pinnacle, he would pause and climb back down. Seeing his hesitance, Rasha sang like Daniel Tiger, “Keep trying, you’ll get better!” Yousef’s back straightened with confidence, and over the rungs he swiveled to the other side.
We all could use a little reminder sometimes that, as Daniel puts it, "In some ways we are different, and in so many ways, we are the same!" All children benefit from messages of empathy and kindness, perseverance and courage, and understanding and sincerity. Rasha is one among millions of parents who are grateful to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood for modeling caring and neighborly ways for a new generation of children.
Notes for this week:
- International Day of Friendship is July 30th! Call a friend to say hello.
- Our collective givetwig donation will help extend Fred Rogers' philosophy and values by producing popular and meaningful media for today’s children and families.
- For further information regarding The Fred Rogers Company, please check out their website.