Everyone can name some of the characters on Sesame Street. There’s Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Elmo, of course. They all live on Sesame Street and help children learn their numbers and letters. Now, the popular children’s show has introduced a more serious topic: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Traumatic experiences like abuse, neglect, domestic violence, parental divorce, and others can impact a child’s mental and physical health, brain development and life expectancy. As part of the Sesame Street in Communities initiative to support children, parents, and caregivers, the show has released new resources to help families and children who have experienced trauma learn to cope.
Helping Children Affected by Trauma
The free materials on trauma cover topics such as feeling safe, managing emotions, self-care, relaxation, breathing strategies, and expressing feelings. It is important for children who have experienced trauma to know these skills because they may not be able to find the right words to explain how they are feeling, they may feel a loss of trust, and they may even have thoughts of sadness, fear or anxiety.
Here’s a video that shows how children can safely release feelings of anger:
Over half of U.S. children have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience, and one in five have experienced at least two traumatic events, according to a 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health. All people react differently to trauma but left unaddressed, it can lead to increased health risks later in life. Health problems could include alcohol abuse, depression, increased risk of cancer, suicide, and many others.
Hope for a Healthy Future
With these resources, caring adults can help children who are affected by trauma move beyond those experiences. Sesame Street’s videos, storybooks, and games speak directly to children while allowing parents and caregivers to start conversations and help to make connections. The initiative has also released content for adults to implement healthy coping strategies in their own lives, understand trauma from a child’s perspective and build on their own skills.