Sesame Street's new season will focus primarily on teaching kindness as a skill.
The season's theme has shown itself especially relevant after research the show conducted in the fall with parents and teachers. Two-thirds of parents and 86% of teachers labeled the world an "unkind place" for the children they taught and parented. And, parents indicated they might not be emphasizing kindness as the most important value for their children: 58% of parents rated empathy as less important than manners in a survey, while only 41% made the opposite distinction.
To help encourage kindness in young children, it is necessary to model kind behaviors for them, says Rosemarie Truglio, a researcher for the show. They "don't [yet] have the cognitive abilities" to perspective-take, or put themselves in someone else's shoes, so they sometimes cannot tell what behavior might make another person happy or sad.
So, Sesame Street has not only scripted kind behaviors for its characters, but also prepared ways to highlight them and make kids consciously aware of what kindness looks like. The show will label and replay kind behaviors and then give children a "kindness cam" to encourage them to mimic kind behaviors themselves.