In a new study, researchers discovered that video starring the Sesame Street character Cookie Monster could teach preschoolers self-control.
UI professor Deborah Linebarger at the University of Iowa, studied a group of preschoolers who watched videos of Cookie Monster practicing ways to control his desire to eat a bowl of chocolate chip cookies, and found that the children who viewed the 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.
The video shows the Cookie Monster holding a cookie and singing the words "Me want it, but me wait."
Linebarger said that a formal school situation requires that children control impulses, follow directions, transit smoothly between activities, and focus on relevant task information. These skills also predict other academic skills including reading, math, and science.
The study involved 59 preschool children who were recruited from six child-care centers in and around a small city in the Midwest. It involved a new curriculum developed by Sesame Street that features Cookie Monster and was designed to teach preschoolers executive function skills such as self-control, working memory and switching gears between activities.
Cookie Monster spoofs Icona Pop's hit song 'I Love It' in the video demonstrating the need to master self-regulation skills by using different strategies on waiting to eat a cookie. Video used with the permission of Sesame Street.
The children in Linebarger's study were first shown one of two five-minute video: Cookie Monster being taught to listen, remember and control his desire to eat cookies, or 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.
The research was presented during the London International Conference on Education.