Cookie Monster Helps Kids Learn Self-Control

An innovative study has determined that watching the Sesame Street video featuring the Cookie Monster can help children improve their executive skills.

Deborah Linebarger, an associate professor at the University of Iowa, discovered that when a group of preschoolers watched videos of Cookie Monster practicing ways to control his desire to eat a bowl of chocolate chip cookies — the kids demonstrated better impulse control.

“Me want it,” Cookie Monster sings in one video. “But me wait.”

Linebarger found that preschoolers who viewed the Cookie Monster video were able to wait four minutes longer than their peers who watched an unrelated Sesame Street video.

They were also better able to control the impulse to shout out character names and to remember and repeat back longer number sequences.

Linebarger believes learning to master these executive functioning skills are critical to school readiness.

“A formal school situation requires that children control impulses, follow directions, transit smoothly between activities, and focus on relevant task information,” she says. “These skills also predict other academic skills including reading, math, and science.”

Linebarger presented the findings of her study during the London International Conference on Education.

The study involved 59 preschool children who were recruited from six child-care centers in and around a small city in the Midwest.

The study involved a new curriculum developed by Sesame Street that features Cookie Monster and is designed to teach preschoolers executive function skills such as self-control, working memory, and switching gears between activities.

“These are the nonacademic skills that help make a child successful at school,” Linebarger says. “They help children manage their behavior, sit still, and pay attention.”

Cookie Monster spoofs Icona Pop’s hit song “I Love It” in this video demonstrating the need to master self-regulation skills by using different strategies on waiting to eat a cookie. The video was used with the permission of Sesame Street.

The children in Linebarger’s study were first shown one of two five-minute video. The first involved Cookie Monster being taught to listen, remember, and control his desire to eat cookies. The second showed Murray being led through a series of clues to figure out where he and Little Lamb were going to visit.

After that, the children were given DVDs to view at home for three weeks which followed the same storyline as the first video they watched.

Kindergarten teachers report that more than half of children entering school suffer deficits in self-control, working memory, and capacity to adjust between activities.

Source: University of Iowa