Sesame Street Helps Build Child Resilience

Story by Erin Wittkop, Defense Media Activity

Photo: Sesame Street Workshop's "Little Children, Big Challenges" family guide. (U.S. Defense Department screen shot by Erin Wittkop/Released)

Sesame Street Workshop’s “Little Children, Big Challenges” family guide. (U.S. Defense Department screen shot by Erin Wittkop/Released)

Coping with the rigors of military life is challenging for anyone but it can be especially tough for military kids as they try to grasp the gravity their parents’ careers sometimes entail. From frequent moves, to separation during deployment, wounds of war and sometimes even death, military kids face big concerns at a young age.

Sesame Street Workshop is helping military families take on these tough subjects to help break the ice with youngsters and start cultivating healthy coping skills as they grow.

“We’ve had a long collaboration with Sesame Workshop,” said Barbara Thompson, Military Family Policy, Children and Youth director, noting that Sesame approached the Defense Department in 2005 with the idea of working together to help military kids.

The first series of DVDs created from this collaboration addressed the topics of separation, change due to injury and grief.

“The topics are universal. While they are geared for military families, [we] know that they fill a niche for all children. I think that that’s really the beauty of our collaboration with Sesame,” Thompson said.

This latest effort, “Little Children, Big Challenges,” has resulted in a tool kit for families consisting of a family guide, educator guide, videos, activities and tips for parents as they take on:

  • Frustration
  • Separation
  • Patience
  • Mistakes
  • Together Time
  • Bedtime
  • Mean or Aggressive Behavior
  • Sibling Rivalry
  • Relocation

“We want to build resilience and coping skills in young children [for] some of the everyday challenges [they] face,” she said, noting that these exercises aren’t your typical, fun Sesame Street activity that a child can complete on their own.

“These are materials specifically designed to for children to be watching with a loved one, with an adult, with someone who can help guide them through the emotions being discussed and how they feel. It is really a learning experience, one that requires the significant adult in that child’s life to be with them and watching and talking to them about the content of that subject.”

The kit also offers pointers to parents who want to make the messages relatable to older children at different developmental levels. It can be downloaded in English or in Spanish on Military OneSource or on the Sesame Workshop’s website and is free to all military families.


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Sesame Street Helps Build Child Resilience