It’s not fair to target Mr. Rogers. He encouraged kids to do their best. Kids should definitely be encouraged to accept themselves the way they are, because there are some things you can’t change. No-one should be made miserable for not being pretty enough or smart enough whatever the decreed enough is. And once you accept who you are, it’s important to go as far as you can with what you have, which takes effort and discipline. At the same time, kids are kids and need to play.
We’re a self-centered, self-indulgent culture anyway, and Mr.Rogers didn’t cause that. The focus is on feeling good, from self-help books to spas to pills to surgery; and lawsuits when something goes wrong because it just has to be someone else’s fault. We’re obsessed with personal happiness as if it’s a goal and not a by-product. Kids see that. If the kid doesn’t get an A he doesn’t feel good, and that’s the professor’s fault so the professor has to fix it. In fact I think there’s some sort of maturity problem with our whole society. Adults should be responsible and do their duty, and from that comes satisfaction and happiness. But adults in our society just want to feel good without “earning” it by doing right. Feeling good without having to achieve anything is something kids should always have. But once you’re an adult, I don’t think you should spend too much of your time engaged in activities solely to feel good, not that you can’t feel good as the result of an activity.
I always introduce myself to kids as Mrs., — there should be a little distance. At the same time I don’t think there’s any need for a big backlash, kids are kids and should get to enjoy being kids. Of course they have to meet standards, but the standards have to leave room for being kids, you only get to do that once.