talking to kids

Focus Features/Youtube, Representative Image from Canva

A still from Focus Features' "Won't you Be My Neighbor?" documentary trailer (Left). Dad smiling and holding child (right)

Dad and parenting educator Jon Fogel, who goes by @wholeparent on social media, thinks he’s stumbled onto “one of the greatest parenting hack ever,” thanks to Mister Rogers.

In a clip posted to TikTok, Fogel explained how he had recently stumbled upon a study about the effect that “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” had on kids.”

“Kids who watched [the show] for whatever reason, seemed to be more patient, more calm, just more, like, emotionally attuned,” he said.

The study, published on ChildResearch.net, went to to predict that Mister Rogers’ signature soothing teaching style and well known “tools for learning” like curiosity, listening, and caring about one another “will grow even more important as the digital age evolves.”

That certainly seemed to be the case for Fogel, who explained that, like many parents, his kids are normally “bouncing off the walls” when they wake up between 5-6am. However, when he tried the Mister Rogers approach, everything changed.

“I am just going to act. I'm gonna pretend to be Mr. Rogers. I'm gonna speak like Mr. Rogers, like super slow-paced ... I'm just going to be Mr. Rogers…and see what happens to my kids,” he said.

The results were nothing short of magical.

Instead of “tearing up the house,” the kiddos sat in a circle, “patiently playing Lego” and “attentively attuned” to Fogel’s every word as he calmly and slowly asked questions.

Just think if he had worn a cardigan while doing all this.

@wholeparent Am i the only one doing this? Is this just a cheat code? #parenting #parenting101 ♬ Won't You Be My Neighbor? - Mister Rogers

Fogel’s hack quickly got a lot of views online, and many folks who watched the clip agreed this should be a new go-to parenting move.

“The impact of being calm and respectful toward tiny humans is amazing. They’re spongy mirrors. They absorb our energy and reflect it back at us,” one person wrote.

Another added, “Calm and slow, open and non-judgmental, you invite them to share their thoughts with you, they’re happy that you’re listening and paying attention to them.”

One viewer pointed out how Rogers has a special set of rules for talking to children, lovingly dubbed “Freddish” by his team of writers, which meticulously reconstructed language so that young children could understand what was being said to them in a positive way. Just one of the many reasons why the show was such a phenomenon in the children’s programming sector.

Others chimed in with praises of Rogers’ timeless appeal—for kids and adults alike.

“Mr Rogers is very ASMR…I’m 41 and still sing the theme song to my kids,” one parent shared.

Mister Rogers might be known for his educational work with children, but he’s taught many lessons to us "big kids" too, primarily when it comes to effective, compassionate communication. His legacy is a gift that keeps on giving.