Newsletter/Video Archive: Relationships


All through the Neighborhood series Fred let his young viewers know that their ideas matter and that they have much to contribute to a conversation.

Fred Rogers believed deeply that children learn social-emotional skills in order to please the people who care about them. So when you “pull up a chair” or find another way to give a child your full attention some time in the day.

Fred Rogers said at first he wanted to be interesting and fun for the children.  But the more comfortable he became with himself and with the children, the more he realized that the most important thing is to LISTEN.”

As you can hear on this Neighborhood video, there was another, more personal reason why Fred wore those sweaters. When I watched it, I found a new appreciation for what “things” mean to children -- and to all of us. 

They say laughter is contagious. I suppose that’s because laughter is a social experience and helps us bond together, whether we’re children or adults. There’s something about having fun and laughing together that warms a place and makes us feel “at home.”

It’s important for children to see adults being respectful, kind and helpful. There’s a Quaker saying that Fred often quoted, “Attitudes are caught, not taught.” Children want to be like the important adults in their lives.

You may never know which children are “catching” something from you...maybe using it in their own way…and which ones might even use it later on in their adult lives. But I think we can trust that happens.

Through this video and all through the Neighborhood, Fred reminded us that we’re all only human, and that being human is good enough.

Remember too, that no matter what that parent seems like to you, to his or her child that person is the most beautiful -- and most important -- person in the world. So when you help parents, you’re helping their children as well.

Relationship-building isn’t always smooth. And it does take time. But when “building a relationship” becomes your goal -- rather than the goal of having the family work on “correcting a child’s problem,” you may be surprised to find that it’s easier to connect than you thought.

Playing about what grownups do, like going off to work, is natural for children, and connecting it with reunions can add another meaningful element. Some teachers encourage children to pretend they are parents going to work and then coming back to their babies in the doll corner.

Most people really appreciate if you just try to pronounce their name correctly. But it’s not always easy. I’ve had the experience of trying and then asking if I got it right…and getting it wrong and having to work on it more than a few times.

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