I wish they would have named it “Strangle Me Elmo.” Because that’s how I feel about that particular character.
Sesame Street was my babysitter growing up, especially since the show and I are practically the same age. So when the news comes that Sesame Workshop is launching an educational oral health initiative geared towards two year olds and up, I get it. They’re about modeling good habits with jingles and images that kids will remember when it’s their time to “do what they saw on TV.”
This is especially helpful for the kids from low-income families, because parents may not realize that their own belief systems about primary teeth can prevent children from getting appropriate care. When a kid sees Elmo brushing his teeth and eating healthy “crunch” foods, studies show that they’re very likely to have positive changes in their own nutrition and hygiene habits, and so even if they’re not going to the dentist, they just might have healthier teeth.
Elmo’s annoying voice was not part of my childhood, so I don’t “connect” with him. But I would, oh, I SO would connect with him, if someone wanted to put him in my hygiene chair and let me spin a prophy cup at his fur.
Learn more about Sesame Workshop and their “Healthy Mouth, Healthy Me” series here, and you also may enjoy reading this interview with Dr. James Crall, Sesame Workshop advisor and professor of pediatric dentistry and public health & community dentistry at UCLA.