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Fewer parents in urban slums of Delhi feel girls should repress their anger: Sesame Workshop India Study

Fewer parents living in urban slums of Delhi-NCR feel girls should learn to suppress their anger and other emotions, according to a study conducted by Sesame Workshop India that also revealed a higher number of children reporting their father to be their play partner as compared to before.

The insights were released by the educational non-profit that works towards addressing the developmental needs of children in a summit it held on mental well-being of children and families in the national capital. The findings were part of an endline evaluation of the organisation’s ‘Play Learn Connect’ and ‘Bright Start’ projects that were themed on addressing the social-emotional needs of children in urban slums of Delhi-NCR. The organisation had first conducted a baseline study of temporary migrant families to ascertain their level of understanding about play-based education, gender-bias in interpreting emotions, parenting strategies, among other behavioural mechanisms. It then designed an intervention focused on promoting play-based education to help children develop the right set of skills by engaging caregivers of 2600 families.

20.32% parents felt their children learnt how to manage their own feelings better with support of adults as compared to before, with a 15.44% positive shift seen regarding the belief that children should learn to hide their feelings.

“While still pronounced, there has been a significant improvement in terms of gender bias and stereotyping with 26.4% fewer parents feeling that girls should learn to suppress their anger and other emotions as compared to the baseline,” a release by the organisation said, adding that their effort to normalise crying for boys resulted in a 18.7% improvement in perception of caregivers regarding boys crying when stressed.

There were also some concerning findings with a 14% reduction in the belief by parents that boys and girls should play similar games and a 14.05% decline in perception of helping children understand their feelings even though parents demonstrated improved attitudes regarding spending time with children.

“We all evolve by continuous learning. There have been many stigmas associated with mental health and we need to address this with utmost sensitivity. It was for the first time in the union budget that our finance minister talked about the mental health of the citizens – children, parents, family as a unit along with teachers as health and wellness ambassadors via teachers. It’s not only the kids and adolescents whose mental health is concerning, but the caregivers for the same are equally important to be addressed” said Preeti Sudan, IAS (Retd), secretary, ministry of health and family welfare.

“Our content design, campaign approach, outreach initiatives are guided by thorough research and evaluation that aim to address the whole child curriculum with a key focus on socio-emotional learning. Over the next 3 years, we aim to reach and engage 1 million children through our community outreach and 20 Mn children year-on-year through our media outreach. We are committed to provide continuous and quality early childhood care and education by embedding learnings from our current phase of implementation and bridging the gap in knowledge and practice of the caregivers with an even more effective and scalable intervention,” Sonali Khan, managing director, Sesame Workshop India said.

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