Sometimes, we tell stories with children to help them work through problems. The scene: The park. An older child grabbed your child’s toy and it broke. He gave it back and left the park. You were too far away to intervene. Your child, A, was very upset and could not calm down enough to play and you and the rest of the family went home. At bedtime, A was still upset. “He braked my toy”, A said over and over again, getting more and more agitated each time. You pointed out that sometimes, toys break, and it was not A’s fault, and next week, when it’s payday, you can try to get A another one. NO!! I want my toy NOW!!!
Calmly, you say, “Let’s make a story about the toy.” What happened? He braked my toy! Where were we with that toy? In park. Yes, we went to the park. You brought your toy. A big boy broke your toy and ran away. You were angry! Another day, we can buy another toy.
Talking about it and adding details may help A decide that the new toy should be bigger or smaller, or a different color. This way, A can look forward to getting a new toy and talk about the attributes of the new toy every time the story is retold. Maybe, after lots of retelling, A will want a different toy instead. Maybe a picture of A’s angry face can be made and another one with A’s happy face with the new toy. The details aren’t as important as the process of channeling the anger into storytelling, and accepting emotions, even strong ones.
Things don’t always work out the way we want them to, but we can always manage our feelings.