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From 1968 to 2001, Mister Rogers changed the face of children’s television by using emotional intelligence. He didn’t shy away from sensitive topics such as war and emotions. Usually, children’s programs portray an atmosphere of happiness and a conflict-free life. However, Mister Rogers challenged the status quo by introducing more difficult topics and normalizing them as a part of everyday life. Mister Rogers is best known for treating children as adults and letting them express their emotions, good or bad.
Mister Rogers’ use of emotional intelligence to sense children’s emotions and use prodding questions, enabled children to feel comfortable talking to him. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was unlike any other television program at the time. It focused on a child’s psyche and how they react to events or feelings, rather than teaching them numbers or letters. In using emotional intelligence, Mister Rogers was able to form deep connections with his guests on the show.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to read, understand, and analyze emotions in order to respond to them. For example, if your sibling or friend is upset, you can use emotional intelligence to analyze their emotions and respond to them in a way that will help them. Emotional intelligence is useful in every aspect of life. It is something that some people are naturally better at, but that doesn’t mean you can’t practice it.
Using emotional intelligence is a fantastic way to develop deep, meaningful relationships with people because everyone wants to be understood. That’s why Mister Rogers was so good at understanding and communicating with children. He had a natural sense of emotional intelligence, intermixed with his background in child development, and used these tools to teach children cognitive learning.
How Did Mister Roger’s Use Emotional Intelligence?
Mister Rogers was exceptionally good at using emotional intelligence to understand his audience. For example, he would introduce topics such as current events and position them in a way that children could understand. Mister Rogers was also known for rejecting the current cartoons of that time period because they focused on fighting and bad behavior. Instead, Mister Rogers chose to focus on things such as a child’s individuality and feelings. Mister Rogers created an atmosphere of love and acceptance, whereas other television programs were rooted in violence and disobedience.
Another aspect of emotional intelligence that Mister Rogers would dabble in is silence. Mister Rogers believed silence was a very powerful tool that could be used to persuade kids to talk about themselves more. He used silence when children would talk about how they felt about certain events or how their day went. This simple tool would allow him to connect with his audience by saying absolutely nothing.
What Drew Children and Adults to Mister Rogers?
Many people recall a nostalgic fondness of Mister Rogers because he was such a pleasant man. He was slow-speaking, articulate, and spoke to you through the television in a way that made you feel important. Everyone wants to feel included and unique, and that’s exactly what the persona of Mister Rogers portrays.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Mister Rogers is certainly a person that used emotional intelligence in its purest form: to understand children and adults. He didn’t use it to manipulate anyone; he purely wanted to make friends out of his audience. To this day, Mister Rogers’ use of emotional intelligence remains unmatched. There are few television programs to date that could captivate an audience as well as he did.
The whole purpose of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is to show children and adults that they are all unique and serve a purpose. However, even though we are different, we can all relate to one another in a way. Mister Rogers teaches us that if you have good “neighbors” or friends in your life that will help you through those hard times, you will have a much happier life than if you don’t.