Parents say “Use your words!” to help children turn their raw emotion into understandable language. Here is another way to transform feelings, help children process events and support your child’s love of language, art and books. Make books yourselves, together. Nothing high tech – sheets of computer paper, a stapler and markers are all you need. Turn your life events- moving, saying goodbye, a new baby, fighting with friends, learning to control anger, into a narrative.
Here’s an example. You are moving and a bit worried about how your child will handle it. You want to be able to prepare and discuss, but kids need indirect ways of talking about big things. So, tell your four year old you two are going to write a book about moving. Show her how to make a book by stapling papers together and off you go!
“What should the cover be like? We need a name for our book and a picture. What should be call it?”
“James is moving.”
“Awesome title! I’ll write that and then you draw a picture now for the cover of our book…Is that our building?”
“That’s our house and I want to stay here!?”
“I know, let’s start the book with that. I will write the words and you can draw and write your words. So, page one. James lives at 332 West 24th Street. He has lived there since the day he came home from the hospital. He doesn’t want to move and leave his house! He says, “I want to stay here.”
It is the rare kid who won’t be hooked by the plot line here! You continue your book about moving with your story and blend in the language your child uses in the prose. You translate a life event into a story, and thereby give a way to process feelings for your children.
Let’s cut to the last page.
“So James and his mommy, daddy and Maggie the dog move will move to their new house at 112 West 89 th Street. They will always remember and miss their first house. The End.”
Your child now can look at this book of his own creation, his own words, his designs. He is in charge of his own story, which we all know, helps.