Description: Mr. Rogers spoke to children from “his neighborhood” on television from 1968 through to 2001 (with a 2.5 hiatus in the later 70’s) and if you missed seeing him you can get the experience through a documentary (Won’t You Be my Neighbor) and through the recently released film with Tom Hanks as the man in the red cardigan (It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). One thing he did a LOT of on his show is talk with his viewers about emotions, about their emotions, and not just about happy emotions but all of them, the sad ones the dark ones, all of them. Think about whether you think this was a good thing and if so why and then read through the article linked below to see one thoughtful inquiry into this question (I have one to offer as well but that is below and for AFTER you have read the article linked below).
Source: It’s a Terrible Day in the Neighborhood, and That’s OK Mariana Alessandri, The New York Times.
Date: November 28, 2019
Photo Credit: Eleanor Davis
I think it is fascinating that there seems to be a huge recent bump in interest in Fred Rogers and in how he talked with and presented aspects of the world and local neighbourhoods of ours to his young viewers but especially how he talked about emotions. The author of the article linked above indicated that Fred’s approach was at odds with the common strong sentiment that children should ignore their strong emotions and especially their dark emotions. Consider the juxtaposition of these two broad and recent social trends. On the one hand we have the rise in very recent years of an apparent epidemic of anxiety among high school and university students and on the other hand we have seen a recent, steady and consistent jump in in calls for higher levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) for everyone but especially for new hires, potential and current leaders and high school and post-secondary students. Now, consider that along with this but perhaps not as well seen outside of developmental and early childhood education domains there has been a jump in interest in (not just research in) the area of emotional regulation and in how infants, preschoolers, school aged children adolescents and emerging adults figure out how to regulate and then understand and manage their emotions (and those of others around them). Hmmm, in these days of superhero-rich entertainment domains perhaps the one superhero we need most of all is a soft-spoken, cardigan wearing, Kingdom of Make Believe managing man named Fred. Think about it, perhaps the road to emotional intelligence, anxiety management, positive social engagement and general wellbeing needs to be detoured through Mr. Rogers Neighborhood!? It could be a beautiful day!
Questions for Discussion:
- What do you recall, or have you gleaned from media about what Fred Rogers did on his show for young children?
- How might the difference in pace of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood compared to shows like Sesame Street influence what children take away from their time with those shows?
- How might emotional regulation and Emotional Intelligence be related and why might acknowledging such a connection matter?
References (Read Further):
Lopes, P. N., Salovey, P., Côté, S., Beers, M., & Petty, R. E. (2005). Emotion regulation abilities and the quality of social interaction. Emotion, 5(1), 113. https://www.academia.edu/download/48929934/s0191-8869_2802_2900242-820160918-30849-453zen.pdf
Peter, P. C. (2010). Emotional intelligence. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing.
Kerr, R., Garvin, J., Heaton, N., & Boyle, E. (2006). Emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 27(4), 265-279. https://manajemenrumahsakit.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/EI-leadership-effectiveness.pdf
Shanker, S. (2015). Self-regulation. https://www.ccyp.wa.gov.au/media/1769/report-2012-thinker-in-residence-stuart-shanker-june-2012.pdf
Shanker, S., Director, M., & Harris, E. (2011). The development of self-regulation. Presentation at Collaborative. http://www.cityssm.on.ca/Cityweb/media/Social-Services/KidsFirst/2011/ShankerPresentation.pdf