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Lynn Chwatsky

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Even Grover Has Bad Days

Posted: 12/27/2013 4:46 pm

Life isn't perfect -- nor is it easy, especially around the holidays. Today's world presents myriad challenges, large and small, each and every day. And while our grown-up problems may weigh on us, we have the experience -- and the perspective -- to realize that this too shall pass. But to a child, even seemingly small issues can feel like the end of the world. And all children have bad days -- even Grover.

But thanks to Sesame Workshop's Little Children, Big Challenges initiative, parents and educators can give children all the resources they need to overcome the challenges they face. Because just as important as learning ABCs and 123s is learning how to become resilient. And Grover and the rest of the Muppets can show them how.

Saying Goodbye

No matter how independent a child may seem, saying goodbye can be the worst part of his or her day. Separating from a parent or caregiver can cause overwhelming emotions such as anxiety and fear that the caregiver will not return. School drop-off can be a particularly distressing experience -- even Elmo finds it difficult to separate from his dad. But there are ways to make the transition a smooth one -- with practice, patience and persistence. When you have concrete strategies and routines with your child about separating, the separation will be much easier for both of you.

  • Learning to separate can take time. Use a routine to help make the good-bye as concise and structured as possible. Each time you separate, try giving your child two hugs and a kiss and say, "I'll be back to pick you up later!" Or you can add a funny parting phrase such as, "See you later, alligator!"
  • To comfort and assure your child as you say goodbye, you can say this poem:

Bye, bye for now. I'll see you soon. I'll be back. The time will zoom! You will be fine. You'll have fun, too. And don't forget that I love you!

Or make it into a song -- and sing along with the Muppets.

  • Build your child's sense of security by letting her know that you are thinking about her. You might leave a little note in her lunchbox or keep a small photo album in her cubby.
  • Check in with your child regularly about her feelings. It'll remind her that you're there for her and give her opportunities to practice expressing emotions.

Bullying

We tend to think of bullying as a high school problem, but children as young as two can experience mean behavior -- and it can occasionally lead to bullying. Bullying is a specific type of aggressive behavior that includes repeated hitting, kicking, and calling of mean names, as well as excluding. And even Elmo and his friend Chicken have dealt with this challenge, as seen in a video with Glee's Chris Colfer. And while parents can't be with their children every moment of the day, they can equip them with the skills to overcome the challenge of being bullied.

  • If your child is being bullied, have him practice saying, "I don't like the way they are acting. I am going to play with someone else." Let him know that it is always OK to ask a grown-up for help.
  • Encourage him to tell you how he is feeling. Ask, "How did you feel when...?"
  • If your child is being bullied assure him that it is not his fault. Help your child brainstorm positive words to describe himself. You can use the What We Are anthem song as inspiration.
  • Let your child know that you believe in her. Knowing that she has your support will help her become more confident.
  • If your child is involved in bullying, work with school officials and counselors to stop the behavior. Provide them with the date, time, place, children involved, and specifics of the incidents and their effects.
  • Introduce your child to the word "persistent," explaining that it means not giving up, even when things don't go the way you want them to. Being persistent helps us solve problems...and helps make us stronger.

While these issues range in severity, they have one thing in common: they're teachable moments. Each instance of adversity provides an opportunity for adults to empower children to overcome these obstacles. And more importantly, to learn how to overcome them again and again by building the resilience skills that will continue to serve them for years to come. By supporting children's development and growth, we adults can ultimately help them to thrive.

And that's the heart of what we do at Sesame Workshop. We utilize the educational power of media - and Muppets - to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. We're committed to helping young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. And just as important as learning ABCs and 123s is developing resilience -- just ask Grover.

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