Mr. Rogers’ Advice for Successful Discipline
“Mr. Rogers wasn’t talking about entitlement. And If you don’t believe that everyone has inherent value, then you might as well go against the fundamental notion of Christianity – that you are the beloved son or daughter of God.” – 2018 Fred Rogers Documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
Fred Rogers is renowned for his kindness and gentleness in loving and fostering growth in children. Although most people know him for his beloved TV show, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, Mr. Rogers was also immensely influential through his writing and interviews with parents and children. In a segment called “Mr. Rogers Talks with Parents About Discipline,” Mr. Rogers touches on several compelling ways that discipline can allow us to teach our children to “channel their energy in healthy ways.” These are 4 of the key elements of successful discipline according to Mr. Rogers’ interview sessions:
Keep your anger in check.
Although each parent in the interview had a slightly different take on anger, Mr. Rogers led the conversation to the following conclusion: Getting angry with your child is ok, but the best discipline happens when the parent is able to focus on punishment as instruction rather than as an expression of anger.
Remember that you were there once.
When you have a fussy child or rebellious teen, remember that you were once there. Look deeper at what your child may be trying to express. Is the fussy child frustrated because she or he cannot communicate? Is your teen rebelling to forge his or her own identity? By identifying with your child’s misbehavior, you are able to address the root of the behavior rather than simply trying to control the behavior itself.
Your discipline is discipleship.
Mr. Rogers encourages parents to remember that discipline comes from the same root as “disciple.” Through your discipline—what you discipline and the way in which you discipline—you are training your children up to be disciples of your example. As Christians, this is a very tall order since we want to be living in such a way that, in following us, our children learn to follow Christ and become His disciples.
Keep the end goal in mind.
Remember the goal of discipline is not to create perfectly obedient robots. Even if your children always seem to obey you, if they cannot discern right from wrong on their own, then the discipline has failed. Mr. Rogers reminds parents that we will not always be living with our children to remind them what is right and wrong. Successful discipline helps the child to grow into human beings who can excel through self-discipline on their own.