Being a kid isn’t easy. Active shooter drills, national tragedy, and personal hardship are things that affect many of our littlest members of society, and to top it all off, they’re often not equipped with coping methods for their trauma. But thanks to our beloved Sesame Street, that’s starting to change.
As part of its ongoing community development program, Sesame Street has come out with an online teaching program aptly named Traumatic Experiences. The primary goal of this program is to teach children how to give language to their emotions and also to release the tension associated with experiencing or witnessing trauma.
Included in the program are numerous videos demonstrating how to deal with “big feelings ” (a psychology term for bursts of emotion that are difficult to deal with). And, in true Sesame Street form, each character featured in the videos copes with their feelings in ways that are unique to them, which can help the methods apply to kids of varying personality types and preferences.
One of our favorite videos is shown below, where Cookie Monster is learning breathing techniques from none other than the Count. I particularly love this one because we do something similar with our own children when they’re too worked up to deal.
Other methods demonstrated in the program are finding a safe mental space, pillow-punching, and giving yourself a hug.
The Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) says that nearly half of all children have experienced some form of Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) before they are teenagers. That, to me, is a sobering wake up call. But on an encouraging note, the organization also shares that, “factors that can mitigate the effects of trauma and toxic stress are family relationships & resilience, social & emotional skills, and family-centered care.”
According to the Sesame Workshop website,
“Traumatic experiences and resulting toxic stress can disrupt a child’s brain development and increase the risk of both short-term and long-term physical, social, and emotional issues. However, children are remarkably resilient, and the effects of traumatic experiences can be lessened if they receive comfort and support. Grounded in the latest research and created in consultation with childhood development experts, the initiative features proven strategies used by social workers, therapists, health care providers, and educators, which—combined with the consistent presence of caring adults—are proven to mitigate the impact of traumatic experiences on young children.”
With Sesame Street now being a multi-generational favorite, it’s clear to see that they’re dedicated to becoming a place of comfort for both children and their families. I’m thankful to live in a time where children are validated in their experiences and emotions instead of cast off. I am confident that a lot of good will come from this initiative!
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.