The incarceration of a loved one can be very overwhelming for both children and caregivers. Seasam Street has jumped in to help. Called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration,” the program is distributing “tool kits’’ to schools, community centers and even jails in 10 states — including New York — starting today to help kids ages 3 to 8, organizers said.
Here are some of the kit’s tips for parents and/or caretakers who are not in prison:
- Let your child know what to expect during everyday activities. Tell her who will take her to school and who will pick her up.
- Provide your child with a comfort item to keep during the day, such as a paper heart or family photo.
- Ask your child questions to help her open up. You might notice a negative behavior and say, “Did something happen today that made you feel sad?”
More tips: “Let your child know that the incarceration is not his fault….Let him know he’s not alone.” And here are tips for preserving a relationship between an incarcerated parent and child:
- Phone calls are a great way to keep in touch. Help your child think of things to tell her parent. Give her a picture of the parent to hold during the call.
- Use pen and paper to write letters. If your child can’t yet write, ask her to tell you what to write; she can draw pictures to go with the words.
- Televisiting can be helpful for some children. Sharing an everyday routine such as storytime during your televisit is a great way to be together.
The kit also includes a video episode about a young muppet named Alex whose dad is in jail. Check out the entire kit here.
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