Often when a parent discusses a concern or challenge they are experiencing with their young child, one of the first things that pops into my head is “make a book”.
A few weeks ago, a mom called about her young son who had become afraid of staying at his daycare home because of a child who was biting and had already bitten him. Drop-offs were difficult, for both mom and child.
This mom was feeling at a loss. She didn’t want to remove him from the special, caring situation her son was in. She trusted her day care provider was handling the situation appropriately, yet she also needed to make sure her son knew that she understood his fears and was not ignoring them.
What I suggested to this mom was to come in and make a book – tell a story, about what her son is going through. She tentatively but bravely said okay, even as she had strong doubts about her illustrative abilities.
The fortunate point, however, to remember in creating a book for children is that they are very acccepting of our attempts at drawing, and imaginative enough to recognize even the faintest suggestion of reality. Stick figures, primitive drawings, using their own words in balloons coming out of mouths, a quick dash of crayon on the stick figures and a blush of color across the page for warmth seals the deal in convincing a child that this story is their very own.
And that’s the significant factor here. This story is your child’s own.
We started off with three or four pages of computer paper folded in half and stapled to make the book. From there the story and pictures unfolded – riding to daycare with his mom, singing their favorite tune, drawings and names of his friends at daycare, his very special caregiver, things he liked to do at daycare, who he liked to play with, (yes, even including the “biter”, sometimes), how he felt -sometimes happy, sometimes mad, sometimes sad or frightened, and how his daycare provider was always there to keep him safe, and mom would always be back to pick him up. For sure.
So why would this help? This is a simple yet compelling tool to use with a young child in all kinds of circumstances. It allows a child to take a step back and hear her own story, absorb the details, reflect on the meaning, feel reassured, understood and definitely connected.
It puts things in perspective in a way that asking questions and trying to get a child to talk about what’s bothering him does not and it offers a solid sense of security that his feelings are being considered and understood. And it can be read and reread over and over again.
So – why not try creating a book for your own child, your family, your daycare group? These books can be serious, funny, joyful – on every subject imaginable. Each will always be one of a kind and that right there makes them special.
If you’d like some encouragement, give me a call. I’d love to get you started!