The name Cookie Monster conjures up an image of a fuzzy blue maniac shoving chocolate chip cookies into his cavernous (toothless) mouth as fast as he can, with crumbs flying in every direction. But that's all about to change, with the implementation of a new concept for the monster: self-control.
This season on "Sesame Street," Cookie Monster will be hosting his own feature called "Cookie's Crumby Pictures," where he will learn to delay the gratification of eating a cookie through parodies of existing films. For example, USA Today details a segment called "Star S'mores," where the monster plays Flan Solo, whose biggest challenge is to refrain from eating his partner — a cookie named Chewy.
Inspired by the Mischel marshmallow test, Cookie's triumph will now come from patience and his reward will be demonstrably more satisfying. The experiment, performed at Stanford University, had psychologist Walter Mischel and his fellow researchers testing toddlers' ability to wait. Those who could wait 15 minutes for two marshmallows, instead of eating one immediately, were more successful academically as teenagers. The writers at "Sesame Street" hope to convey that message to their impressionable young audience.
"What is self-regulation?" Rosemarie Truglio, senior vice president of curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop wrote for the Huffington Post. "When you patiently wait your turn in line, listen carefully to directions, focus your attention on a task rather than giving up easily, or take a deep breath when you are upset, you are practicing self-regulation. It's a critical set of skills and abilities that affect children's behavior socially and academically. And now, when parents are trying to teach their children elements of self-regulation like self-control, patience and persistence, they have a new ally: 'Sesame Street.’ ”
"Sesame Street" may very well replace preschool at the rate it is going. The children's program, which kicks off its 44th season this fall, has widened its focus to include a wide range of topics it teaches its pint-sized viewers.
The show has set a goal to go beyond the simplicity of ABC and 123. Nature, math, science, engineering and problem-solving have been featured in recent clips. The New York Times also spoke to Truglio, who affirmed that this new approach is working. Kids watching the new-and-improved "Sesame Street" are benefitting from the science and problem-solving.
Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician from Seattle who also blogs at Huffington Post, writes that while screens have become more prevalent in everyone's lives this doesn't have to be a negative thing. Controlling what toddlers watch, and being aware that there is a healthy media diet for every age, is a wise way to use screen time to your advantage. With the new curriculum on "Sesame Street," it can be a staple in a healthy day of TV watching for youngsters.