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Mr. Rogers’ advice for raising ‘helpers’ is more timely than ever

In times of tragedy parents can turn to these hopeful words.

Mr. Rogers’ advice for raising ‘helpers’ is more timely than ever

When you are a parent, it can feel as if the blow from tragedies is twice as painful: Not only do you feel heartsick for the people involved, but it's also hard to avoid thinking about the repercussion for a child growing up in a world where mass shootings or terror attacks seem to make weekly headlines.


But there's another unique, more uplifting aspect to parenting in this age: We have the power to raise a kinder generation.

That's why these words from Fred Rogers always serve as a beacon of hope in times of tragedy:

“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."

Although Mister Rogers has been gone for nearly 15 years, we can turn to him for more guidance on talking with children tragic events thanks to a resource on The Fred Rogers Company's website.

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Turn off the TV

As details of recent tragedies emerge, it's good for us all to step away from the news–especially when kids are around. “Exposing ourselves to so many tragedies can make us feel hopeless, insecure and even depressed," Rogers said. “We help our children and ourselves if we're able to limit our own television viewing. Our children need us to spend time with them—away from the frightening images on the screen."

Encourage play

For older kids, Rogers suggested redirecting their play into “nurturing themes," such as pretending to be a nurse or preparing meals for emergency workers. He said helping channel their activities into something positive and uplifting can be beneficial for all: “Little by little, as the adults around them become more confident, hopeful and secure, our children probably will, too."

Provide reassurance

No matter how much exposure children have to the news, it's a universal need for them to feel secure. For younger kids, that may simply mean holding them close and telling them they are loved. Older children may need more reassurance.

“They need to hear very clearly that their parents are doing all they can to take care of them and to keep them safe," Rogers advised. “They also need to hear that people in the government and other grownups they don't even know are working hard to keep them safe too."

Let them know it's okay to feel scared

The truth is we don't have the answers for why acts of senseless violence happen—but Rogers said that doesn't mean we should avoid discussions with our children. He suggested, “If they ask questions, our best answer may be to ask them, 'What do you think happened?' If the answer is 'I don't know,' then the simplest reply might be something like, 'I'm sad about the news, and I'm worried. But I love you, and I'm here to care for you.'"

By validating feelings of fear and sadness, Rogers said the emotions will become more manageable and can be channeled constructively.

“This way, we'll be giving them useful tools that will serve them all their life, and help them to become the worlds' future peacemakers—the world's future 'helpers.'"

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With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

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Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

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Sand play set

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Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

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Water play set

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Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

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Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

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Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

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Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

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Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

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Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

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