“Sesame Street” talks divorce with preschool-aged kids

Divorce can be a tough subject to talk about, but considering the fact that a good number of children live in divorced homes, the popular kids TV show “Sesame Street” decided to tackle the topic as part of a multimedia kit. The 13-minute segment is online available only and will not be aired on TV.

The segment took two years to create. Between researchers, writers and producers, the goal was to get the message across that divorce is not the children’s fault and that their parents will still love them. However, this needed to be done in a way that was understandable to preschool-aged children.

This was not the first time “Sesame Street” tried to address the topic of divorce. Two decades ago the show cast Mr. Snuffleupagus as the child of divorced parents. However, somewhere the message got lost on those preschoolers who viewed the segment as part of a limited test viewing. Kids ended up crying, worrying about “Snuffy” and if their own parents would end up getting divorced.

Not hitting the goal, the segment was never aired, and for the two decades since, the word “divorce” has never appeared on “Sesame Street.”

Not wanting to give up on getting this important message across to children though, a team of writers, researchers and producers of the show spent two years trying to recast the message. Going by the recent test viewers, it seems the show hit the nail on the head.

The 13-minute segment is supposed to be available online this week. This is part of a multimedia kit that includes a storybook, a guide for divorcing parents and an app, all aimed at tackling the topic of divorce with children.

The hope is this will give parents in Missouri, and around the country, a tool in order to address — in a healthy way — the effect the divorce has on children’s emotions.

Source: TIME, “D Is for Divorce: Sesame Street Tackles Another Touchy Topic,” Jessica Bennett, Dec. 10, 2012

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