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Resilience: Making Kids Sesame Street Strong

May 31, 2012 | Harry Kimball

The Sesame Workshop just launched a new online "Tool Kit" that aims to help parents foster resilience in young kids no matter what they face, called Little Kids, Big Challenges. The Child Mind Institute was on hand at a Sesame Street gala in New York last night. (That's CMI president Dr. Harold Koplewicz below, with, I believe, Oscar the Grouch.) 

This is a great tool for parents of kids who have experienced any sort of disruption, from a move to the loss of a parent. But what really strikes me is how helping children with any challenge, or helping them develop any life skill, is all about communication, about conversation, and about cooperation. Harold and OscarThe tool kit, which I hope will grow in scope, includes simple activities designed to encourage kids to think about themselves—"How Am I Feeling?"at the same time that they communicate this information. And it helps them visually understand their support network and the catalog of things they can and have done outside of their comfort zones. (This exercise, called "New Things Tree," is familiar to me from talking to Dr. Jerry Bubrick about treatments for separation anxiety disorder.)

Over on the Sesame Workshop blog, they lay out ambitious goals for the initiative, particularly since it is aimed at 2- to 5-year-olds. "Learning from mistakes; making new friends; resolving conflicts: these are the kinds of early childhood struggles with which Little Children, Big Challenges will help young kids cope." We like to say that kids under 8 are "more B than A;" that is, they respond much better to behavioral approaches than to cognitive ones. And learning from mistakes and resolving conflict are skills that elude many much, much older people. But if we can engage kids early with these tools and boost the resilience required to deal with life's challenges and come out a better person, why not? Best of luck, Sesame Workshop. Now, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

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