Teaching young children to cope with change and difficult situations- Zippy’s Friends

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Zippy’s Friends, developed by UK-based charity, Partnership for Children, is a school-based program that aims to promote the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children. Designed for children aged 5-7, this program helps to foster the skills needed for coping with everyday difficulties, including recognizing and talking about feelings, finding ways to manage difficult emotions, resolving conflict peacefully, and seeking help. Together with Zippy, the stick insect, and his friends (a group of children), students explore topics such as change and loss, bullying, feeling lonely, and the making and breaking of relationships. Zippy’s Friends encourages children to explore and think for themselves, and to pay attention to others’ feelings as well as their own. The program typically runs for 24 weeks, with one 45-minute session each week.

Implemented in primary schools around the world, Zippy’s Friends has been endorsed by the World Health Organization and national governments. While Zippy’s friends is designed to be a universal prevention program, there are resources available on their website for children who have special needs, or who are coping with very difficult situations, such as bullying, bereavement or parental divorce. The Partnership for Children also has a similar program for older children: Apple’s Friends.