In the Fred Rogers Center blog post “The Toothpaste Theory of Child Development,” Co-Director of the Fred Rogers Center and Professor for Early Learning and Children’s Media Junlei Li, Ph.D. describes how looking at a tube of toothpaste compelled him to ask the question, “What is the active ingredient that promotes children’s positive development?” To address this question, he shares his experience in a Chinese orphanage and how it revealed the importance of relationships and human interaction. In the post, Junlei connects this experience to the work of Fred Rogers in the statement:
It [human interaction] was something that Fred Rogers emphasized in nearly all of his public speeches or interviews: ‘Human relationships are primary in all of living. When the gusty winds blow and shake our lives, if we know that people care about us, we may bend with the wind, but we won’t break.” Other ingredients, like computers, although helpful, ‘don’t begin to compare in significance to the relationship between the teacher (or parent) to the child that is human and mutual.’
To help illustrate this point, Junlei provides video examples of early childhood professionals working with children in everyday moments to show the value and effectiveness of intentional human interaction.