Emotional Wellbeing

Solid results on sensitive matters…resiliency and
social skills.

Messages about sharing and growing together, dealing with difficult situations, and accepting others have been at the heart of Sesame Street from its inception. Our outreach initiatives help us extend these lessons from our shows while focusing on the circumstances and challenges of specific populations — such as military families, those struggling through the economic downturn, or those impacted by traumatic events like Hurricane Katrina or 9/11. Is it possible to move the needle on something as delicate as emotions? Our strong results speak for themselves.

Take one study that focused on the socio-emotional impact of watching our show. It demonstrates that children who view Sesame Street episodes with pro-social messages exhibit significantly higher levels of pro-social behavior — such as cooperating, helping, and sharing — than those who do not watch, as much as 40% higher. Just as importantly, children display less antisocial behavior.1 Similarly strong results were seen when we measured the impact of Sesame Street‘s post-9/11 episode about loss. After watching the episode, research shows, children are significantly more likely to know positive strategies for dealing with loss, such as talking about your feelings or drawing pictures of the people you lost.2

In the recent economic downturn, many affected families found it hard to explain their change in circumstances to their young children. But after using our Families Stand Together kit, 82% of parents felt it helped their family cope better. The kit’s messages really hit home, helping families make positive strides, such as directly involving their child in dealing with the changes caused by economic hardship (up from 63% to 81%). They also spent more time on what truly matters and costs nothing — nurturing and playing with their child, which increased to 91%.

Children face real emotional hardship when a parent leaves or comes back injured, as military families know all too well. But as several studies have shown, our Talk, Listen, Connect outreach kits have made these stressful situations a little easier to cope with. 80% of parents felt our kit on deployments helped their children better handle future deployments.4 After using the kit, children exhibited fewer negative behaviors, such as being demanding and impatient. Families reported similar improvements after using the kit designed for children with an injured family member: 71% of caregivers felt the kit helped their child cope.5

The death of a parent is one of the toughest experiences a child can face. While nothing can fully shelter a child from the impact of such a loss, research shows that our When Families Grieve materials help to provide some comfort. 83% of caregivers using the multimedia kit feel they “have more appropriate language to better discuss death with my child.” Just as remarkable, 95% of those who received the kits used them, with 91% of caregivers rating them “Good” or “Excellent.”6

In the wake of tragedy, children are often hit hardest by feelings of stress. Our You Can Ask kit, designed after 9/11 to address such events, has proven a powerful ally to parents and children struggling to cope. After using the kit, two out of three parents (63%) feel more comfortable helping their child handle stress.7 And before emergencies happen, Sesame’s there, too. Parents and teachers using our Let’s Get Ready! materials to prepare for disasters particularly appreciated the role-playing, songs, and other shared activities. The kit also made it clear to families that they were currently unprepared, and drove home how important it is to have an emergency plan that involves their preschooler.8

These kinds of numbers mean our Emotional Wellbeing programs are hitting the mark, helping children grow up kinder, stronger, and above all, happier.

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Our Emotional Wellbeing-related impact studies
1 Zielinska, I. E., & Chambers, B. (1995). Using group viewing of television to teach preschool children social skills. Journal of Educational Television, 21, 85-99.
2 Truglio, R.T., Kotler, J.A., Cohen, D.I., Housley-Juster, A. Modelling life skills on Sesame Street. TELEVIZION 18/2005 E, 15-19.
3 Fluent Research. (2010). Families Stand Together Impact Assessment Report.
4 Russell Research. (2006). Findings from the Talk, Listen, Connect Kit Evaluation.

  • 5 Military Families Research Institute. (2009). Findings from the Talk, Listen, Connect (TLC II-MD) Kit Evaluation; Findings from the Talk, Listen, Connect (TLC II – Changes) Kit Evaluation.
    6 Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University. (2011). Preliminary Findings from the Talk, Listen, Connect III: When Families Grieve Kit Evaluation.
    7 Russell Research. (2004). Findings from a Study of Project Liberty’s You Can Ask! Materials.
    8 Summary of Findings for Bear Stearns Focus Groups on Emergency Preparedness. (2008). Internal Report. New York: Sesame Workshop.