When I was a kid, life seemed much more simple. We didn't have things like school shootings and online bullying to contend with. We could walk home alone and play outside on our own without worrying about a neighbor reporting our parents to the police. And, of course, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was on TV. That comforting introductory song and the soothing voice of the show's sweater-wearing host were hallmarks of my childhood, and that of countless others who grew up to become parents like me.
We may have lost Mister Rogers in 2003, but his powerful and insightful words about people and our world live on. There is perhaps no better time to return to his wise words than right now, to help comfort our kids in an uncertain and often scary world. Here are nine quotes to share with your children in times of sadness, anger, and frustration, to give them hope for the future.
- For a child feeling fear after a school shooting: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world."
- For a child being bullied: "When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed."
- For a child with a disability: "Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities."
- For a child coping with low self-esteem: "If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."
- For a child coping with a disappointment: "Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else."
- For a child dealing with death: "The connections we make in the course of a life — maybe that's what heaven is."
- For a child struggling to make friends: "There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind."
- To help a child understand they aren't alone in their struggles: "There is no normal life that is free of pain. It's the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth."
- To help a child accept that their feelings of sorrow or anger are normal and OK: "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."