Most children love to make up stories. With just the very beginning given to them, a whole tale can be spun in a matter of minutes. These stories can be both entertaining and insightful as many details of the stories are pulled from the everyday lives of the children who are telling them.
When it comes to children who are dealing with grief, giving them the chance to make up a story this way can often turn into a therapy session as their caregiver listens patiently to the story and makes mental notes about subjects they should discuss with the child later.
For example, if a child is talking about a main character who is scared of the dark, the caregiver can later say something along the lines of, “Your character in the story was scared of the dark, but what are some ways he could have not been scared?” The important part of this is to make sure that the child is not interrupted while telling the story. If there is something important that someone wants to ask him or her, wait until the end.
Sometimes kids use their stories to explain how they are feeling without actually having to talk about themselves. So while Sarah may tell a story about a daddy who died in a plane crash and left a very sad billy behind, she may be just trying to communicate her own feelings from behind a safety wall. There may be no conversation necessary.
Consider the same story again and storyteller Sara. If, in her story, the daddy were to come back to life and everyone lived happily ever after this is a subject that should be addressed. The caregiver should make sure that Sara knows this can not happen using his/her own feelings. “I sure wish Billy’s daddy could come back, but we know that doesn’t happen in real life, right?”
We can learn a lot from a child’s stories.