What a difference Sesame Street’s “Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce” program is making in the lives of young children! We are using the materials in our award-winning programs for children and parents. I use them with parents and their children in my clinical practice, and I’ve also been distributing kits to school mental health professionals and pediatricians for their young patients. All of us are finding the results are heartening and remarkably consistent.
One reason the Sesame Street materials are so important is that young children are seldom able to tell their parents about their fears and misconceptions. Instead, they often act out their fears and worries in meltdowns, tantrums, or clingy behavior, and even experience physical symptoms such as tummy aches.
The Sesame Street online resources, DVD, and books give these children critical information and reassurance. At the same time, they provide parents with natural openings to talk with their children about family changes and with proven words and concepts to use in their conversations.
Here’s what we’re finding when parents use the Sesame Street materials with their children:
- Many parents report that the materials gave them the words to have the hard conversations they had been avoiding. They are grateful for the help!
- Parents also report improvements in their children’s clingy, whiny behavior, and decreases in their worries and complaints of tummy aches. They say their children are not as frustrated, demanding, and angry over small incidents. These behavioral changes occur as children’s anxiety, confusion, anger and frustration are reduced.
- Children come into my play therapy room talking about their “big feelings,” and some are even singing the “Big Feelings” song! I hear them reassuring themselves as they repeat that “divorce is not kids’ fault–or Abby’s!” All of this reveals that children are relieved to have accurate, age-appropriate information and a new-found ability to put their feelings into words.
Using the Sesame Street materials, children are learning the powerful ability to express their strong feelings in words. They are also learning to manage their emotions in healthy ways – a foundational skill for healthy relationships in the future and resilience over their lifetime. With the help of their parents – and Sesame Street – they feel reassured and secure in the belief that their parents will continue to love and care for them, always.