A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

‘C’ is for ‘Cookie’ and ‘Control’

Delicious (fake) cookie

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Have you ever watched a young child wait for something he or she wants, like a new toy or an ice cream cone? For little ones, every minute spent waiting may seem like an hour, but learning self-control is an important step toward succeeding in school and well beyond. An iconic children’s show and one of its favored, furry cast members continue to teach that message.

Since its debut in 1969, the Sesame Street characters have been household names for kids of all ages.

Rosemarie Truglio, PhD, is senior vice president for curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop. She said, among many things, that Sesame Street helps prepare children for school readiness.

Truglio told Ivanhoe, “These are the underlying skills that help children learn.”

As part of Sesame Street’s curriculum on self-regulation, storylines focus on Cookie Monster, the impulsive monster with a sweet tooth.

Waiting to eat a cookie is a tall order, but Cookie learns strategies to delay gratification.

Like distraction with a favorite activity, like singing. Pretending the cookie is something else, like a picture, or shifting attention from the desirable object to something undesirable, like a smelly fish. Science suggests that the content could be having the desired effect. In a University of Iowa study, two groups of preschoolers were shown different videos. The group who watched a Cookie Monster video about waiting was able to wait four minutes longer than those who watched an unrelated Sesame Street video.

“Which is huge in the lives of preschoolers,” explained Truglio.

Maybe you can learn a lot from a monster.

In addition to being able to delay gratification, the preschoolers also displayed better memory from viewing other Sesame Street segments.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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