He helped us be ready for new experiences.

Talking about new experiences (1994)
Talking about new experiences (1994)
“I Like to be Told” (1984)
New Experiences Montage

“I like to be told” was Mister Rogers’ way of saying that children need adults to prepare them for new experiences.


Using television Mister Rogers took children to new places and to meet people who can often feel strange and scary, such as the doctor, the dentist, the barber, the kindergarten classroom. It was like a rehearsal for what to expect, so that when it was time to go to school or to the dentist, children would be better prepared, less anxious and more confident with new situations – as children and all through their lives.

Open and honest talk

"I'd like people to think I was honest." Satellite Technology Demonstration, 1968

“…if it’s going to hurt…if it’s going to be hard…if it’s not going to hurt.” Does getting a haircut hurt? Or getting a shot? To young children the world is a mysterious place. Talking openly about what something new will be like – what will probably happen and what won’t – can help lessen children’s fears. It’s easier to be prepared for something that might hurt a little than being surprised when it does, or wondering whether everything will hurt. With so little experience in the world, children’s fantasies are often much scarier than reality.

I first became aware of Mister Rogers when one of my 4-year-old patients quoted him during his entire examination…By demonstrating what might happen… and by giving suggestions about how to face up to the anxiety and pain it might bring, he had helped this boy through an ordeal and given him the chance to be proud of himself.
T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.

Trusting the people who care for us

No wonder children are anxious. “Who are these people, poking and prodding me?” Watching the trusting relationship between Mister Rogers and the doctor or dentist or teacher helps children begin to see these people as helpful and trustworthy. Children can also see how caringly the doctor or dentist or teacher do their work. These kind adults answer questions, explain what they’re doing, give a close look at the tools they use. Little by little Mister Rogers helped children learn to trust these important people outside the family.


Mister Rogers’ message about what to expect wasn’t just for children. It was also a way of encouraging parents to know the value of talking about new experiences. Being honest, even about things that may be difficult to talk about, is an important way to build trust and strengthen the bond between parent and child. “I trust you more and more each time that I’m finding those things to be true.”

Play and pretending

Playing about getting a shot (1996)

Mister Rogers modeled playing about things, like giving a pretend shot to a doll, or playing about going to school, as one of the most important ways for children to work through their feelings. In many new situations children feel powerless and scared. But when they play, they’re in charge. Even though children can’t be in control of much in their lives, when they play about being a doctor or teacher, they’re in control of what happens.

We all “like to be told,” even as adults, when the doctor or dentist is about to do something to us or when we’re about to go into a new experience. All of us, not just children, like to know ahead of time. Armed with more realistic expectations, we’re better able to prepare ourselves for the new and often difficult experiences that lie ahead for us. And we can come away feeling proud of ourselves – which is a good feeling no matter how old we are.