D is for Divorce

Last updated 14:55 13/12/2012
Sesame St
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BIG FEELINGS: Abby Cadabby sings about the 'big feelings' she has after her parents split up.

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Sesame St has launched an initiative to help young children cope with divorce. Called Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, the programme includes a series of free tools such as a story book, a 13 minute video, and even an app.

Sesame St Workshop, the non-profit group behind the Sesame St TV show, says the aim of the project is to show children they are not the only ones with big feelings and questions about divorce. The initiative is aimed at helping children aged betwen 2 and 8 years understand divorce and to reassure them they are still loved and their family will adapt to a different way of living. There are also tip sheets for caregivers and family members to help them talk about divorce in an age-appropriate way.

"With the frequency of children experiencing divorce and or separation today, it is critical to help children understand that the feelings or questions they may have are typical and should be discussed with a parent or caregiver," says Dr Jeanette Betancourt, a senior vice president for outreach and educational practices at Sesame St Workshop.

The non-profit organisation engaged an advisory board of experts in child development, education and mental health and also conducted focus groups with parents as they developed the programme.

The video stars Abby Cadabby, who draws a picture of her two family homes. When her friends Elmo and Rosita ask why her parents live in different houses, grown-up Gordon helps Abby explain the concept of divorce. He tells them that Abby's parents had "grown up problems" that they couldn't fix but that they still loved Abby very much.

 

Some of Sesame St's tips for parents and caregivers:

  • Before talking to your children, give yourself time to process your own emotions. Keep in mind there are certain things your children should know and others that should be avoided.
  • Let your children know it's ok to ask questions. You don't have to know the answers to the questions right away. Explain that you are going to thing about your child's question and provide an answer as soon as you can.
  • Assure your child that a divorce happens because of grown-up problems, and they did nothing to cause it. The divorce is not their fault.
  • Let your children know that it's okay to have big feelings about the divorce, and that these feelings may come and go.

Source: Sesame St. For more tips visit their website.

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