Brighten Your Child's Day (Part 1)

Life in its inevitable ups and downs presents us with good days and bad days. Here are wonderful techniques you can use to help your child process and release memories that have left them heavy-hearted.

Make A Happy Ending

The right brain loves storytelling. Memory is a story. And every story can be rewritten.

The right brain can easily change it--into something bigger (which often happens through fear) or into something smaller... through a creative, healing retelling of the story. Here's how to do it.

  1. Begin with the first story--the original. Patiently give your child time to share and download what has happened. The more he/she talks about it, the better. Sharing is important. You can say, ("Tell me the story about today.")

  2. The original story can be shared by: - drawing a picture - acting it out (puppets and toys help!) - recreating the scene with clay or play dough - talking it through

  3. Be a good listener. When hearing your child's story, it is important not to judge or make critical comments. This is a time for you to listen and share.

  4. When you feel that the story has been fully expressed, ask your child, "What would you have liked to happen INSTEAD?" Listen. Give suggestions if he/she is unable to think of a happy ending.

  5. Tell a new story. When you have brainstormed and found a satisfying ending, then take him on your lap and tell him/her the new story. By telling a new story, you have changed the neurological connections in your child's brain. It is quite powerful.

This technique is used in child abuse healing circles and domestic trauma centers. Of course, it is important not to gloss over life--each experience has something to learn from. But when children are met with senseless violence or unkindness, it is better that they forgive the past and move forward to a healthy future as quickly as possible.

A new story creates a new future!

Here's another great idea for comforting a child who may have had a hard week, shared by a fellow educator.

The Healing Box

Sometimes children come to class early in the morning, a little grumpy and still waking up. Sometimes children come to class in the afternoon, after a morning at school where a teacher spoke to them harshly, or where they had a spat with a friend.

Usually the playfulness of the lesson quickly brings them back into their natural, cheerful state. But, if it takes a while for them to shake off their hurt feelings and engage with the lesson, I bring out the "Healing Box" with paper and crayons. I ask the children to share their hurts or concerns. As they speak, I draw pictures so that they can see the story and the others can feel compassion. Once everyone has shared their feelings, I fold the pieces of paper. Then, I put them into the Healing Box.

The idea is that they can put their concerns in that box and know that those memories will be healed and all is well now. I don't know why it works, but it works! They've shared. I've listened. It's in the box for healing now.

One day, after class, a little girl whispered in my ear, "Teacher, I know the truth about the Healing Box."

Surprised, I said, "You do?"

"Yes, it's God's e-mail."

I smiled. I didn't have words. And I don't know that I could have described it better. Small children have great faith... and that is what makes the box work!