Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to a new way of helping hurting children. She found this group after adopting an older child who had been raised in a “less than ideal” environment. Since our family does a lot of work with orphaned and abandoned children, I was interested to see how the program works.
Connecting with Kids Through Stories: Using Narratives to Facilitate Attachment in Adopted Children was written to help families who are raising children who have previously been in abusive or neglectful environments. Although it focuses on the adoptive family, I believe foster parents could adapt some of the activities to at least begin helping the children they foster move past the pain and into growth and healing.
The book gives a great introduction to the emotional trauma and resulting behaviors that often come from being raised in an abusive environment. If nothing else, this book informs adoptive and foster parents about the behaviors they are seeing in their child and what may have happened in the child’s past. Often these children come into loving homes with sketchy information regarding what they have previously experienced. Many of the traumas they endure result in behaviors that are perplexing to parents who were raised in healthy environments themselves.
Sometimes, more than just love and a stable environment are needed to help children begin to heal and move on from their pain. Telling the child specific, meaningful stories, helps the child work through their painful past and helps them find new more productive coping strategies.
The book walks parents carefully through the four types of narratives or stories to tell your child: claiming, trauma, developmental and successful child narratives. The authors carefully describe the various elements needed in the story and give lots of concrete examples. Parents are encouraged though, to take their child’s specific situation and develop their own unique stories to help their child.
I would imagine, the idea of creating original stories could intimidate some parents. I believe the parents who are trying to help these children who have been hurt so badly are also the type of people who will try almost anything if they think it will help their child. My friend says she and her child have benefitted greatly from using these stories. As a parent, teacher and volunteer who has worked with all sorts of hurting children over the years, I believe this is a very loving way to potentially help your child.
Frankly, I think the successful child stories are also great to use with all children. Unfortunately, my own child is a little old to experiment on with these stories. Actually though, they are not unlike the family stories I have told her for years to subtly get a point across about how someone else handled something similar to what she was currently experiencing. This book will help give you some ideas and structure if you struggle with telling stories to your child.
I encourage you to read this book if you work with hurting children. Let me know how well it works (or if it didn’t) with your child. I would also love to hear from anyone who has experimented with storytelling in working with hurting children who do not live in your home. I suspect this may not be as helpful with those children, but could at least give them some new ideas of viewing their past and new coping strategies.
This link is part of an affiliate program. Should you purchase the book through this link, this blog will receive some compensation. I am extremely honest though, and would not suggest this book if I did not believe it would be helpful. It now has a permanent place in my parenting library.