Mr. Rogers and His Spirit of Compassion
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I joined the crowd of moviegoers to watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks. Hanks plays the role of the beloved children’s show host Mr. Rogers. Throughout the movie, each person who interacts with Mr. Rogers’ character is changed for the better because of his compassionate and caring attitude which radiates in all his interactions.
Prompted by the movie, I continued to read about Fred Rogers long after the movie credits had run. In life, Rogers demonstrated compassion to children and adults of differing abilities – each life touched was transformed. That is what compassionate care does, it transforms.
This month, Stepping Stone School is focusing on compassion as a part of our Communities of Character™curriculum. Children will learn about compassion through books and activities. They will learn ways to help and care for one another.
Some strategies for nurturing compassion in children include:
- Live a Compassionate Life: Expressions of compassion are both obvious and subtle. Obvious acts, such as volunteering time for a worthy cause stand out in a child’s mind as an event. Subtle acts like being kind to the cashier at the grocery store teach children about the day to day actions that make up a life of compassion.
- Surround Yourself with Compassionate People: Watching your interactions with neighbors and friends will eventually begin to impact a child’s view of the world. Keep in mind the messages children are receiving from outside sources.
- Talk to Children about Compassion: Explain what it means to be a compassionate person. Offer examples of what compassion looks like and identify acts of compassion when you see them occurring.
- Explore Compassion: Provide a deeper understanding of compassion by reading books about compassion. Think together about how to make compassion a part of everyday life.
- Engage Your Child in Compassionate Activities: Encourage children to comfort one another. Work as a family to care for a community park, foster an abandoned pet, or volunteer at a non-profit fundraising event. Talk about these experiences and about the feelings they inspire.
As a way to honor Mr. Rogers and his spirit of compassion, each School Age child who enrolls in our winter break program will be given a special red cardigan as a gift from Stepping Stone School. Let the little red cardigans you see in the halls of our schools be a reminder of compassionate care connecting each one of us this holiday season.
Taylor, J. (2014, Jul 28). “5 Ways to Instill Compassion in Your Children.” Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201407/5-ways-instill-compassion-in-your-children