September 20, 2013 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"Me Want It, But Me Wait"
The 44th season of the children's show Sesame Street began this past week. This award winning show has long been a favorite of both young children and their parents. Just thinking about Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Snuffy, Abby, Rosita, Oscar, and Bert and Ernie will most likely bring back a flood of memories associated with watching this delightful show at some time over the last four decades.
One of the factors that has kept Sesame Street relevant for so many years is that the show is always evolving to both include and address changes in the culture. Last week this season's premier revealed a new emphasis that expresses a desire to respond to what early childhood educators say is a growing problem with young children, that of children struggling with impulse control and self-regulation.
So which favorite muppet do you think the creators of Sesame Street chose to teach children about the importance of learning to delay gratification? None other than.... Cookie Monster! Cookie Monster is, of course, well known for his insatiable desire to consume cookies any chance he gets. Up until now, he has hardly been an example of how to delay gratification. This 44th season of Sesame Street, though, reveals a change in Cookie Monster. He has reformed his ways, and has a new motto to help him teach children about impulse control and self-regulation: “Me Want It, But Me Wait!”
For this new television season, the creators of Sesame Street have also launched a series of movie parody videos that also teach the lessons of impulse control and self-regulation. The goal of these videos is to draw in the parents too, so that they can model and reinforce the importance of learning to delay gratification. The creators of Sesame Street seem to know that when it comes to creating heathy habits, parents are their children's primary teachers. Parents most effectively teach the lessons of self-regulation and impulse control to their children by modeling those traits and habits in their own lives.
(You can view one of these fun videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PnbKL3wuH4#t=51 )
“Me Want It, But Me Wait” is a great motto for all of us--not just for Cookie Monster and the viewers of Sesame Street. No matter what the “it” is we want, learning to delay gratification is the key to wellness in all areas of our lives. Or to look at this from another point of view, the cause of most breakdowns in physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational wellness is the inability to delay gratification. Wellness in all areas of our life is directly related to self-regulation and impulse control. Relationships get off track when people impulsively react to each other out of hurt or anger. Our physical wellness suffers if we simply eat every “cookie” that comes our way. Our spiritual wellness suffers if we approach spirituality with a “consumer” mentality, seeking to only be entertained and filled up.
Wellness requires discipline and the forming of habits and practices that bear fruit over a longer period of time. It doesn't happen quickly! It's worth noting here that some 2000 years ago Paul, a primary writer of the New Testament, in a letter to the people of Galatia wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22,23). Wise people even then seemed to understand this important connection between self-control and creating a good life.
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