or Putting the “Boo” in Empathy Books
by Ben Wright
Halloween can be fun for lots of kids, while for others it can be a bit terrifying. Even if you are not a family that celebrates the holiday, there are many images around that might affect our children. It’s hard to know what they are seeing and how it is being processed. There are spooky decorations around, billboards for haunted houses, costume stores overflowing with all types of costumes, people in masks, ghosts, skeletons…
I think you get the idea.
A lot of big feelings may be coming up. Some kids may show you these feelings plainly, so you can see what they need support with; while with others it may not be so straightforward. Often dealing with your child’s fears can be difficult to handle, especially when it feels big.
Most of us didn’t get much support when we were little to really express our own fears and to find ways to deal with them and heal them. The message of the dominant paradigm was (and still is) “Don’t be a scaredy cat” or “Why are you scared? It’s just pretend!” or some other version of this message. Because we didn’t get to work on our fears (and still sometimes don’t), we can be left grasping for ways to help kids deal with these big and even overwhelming feelings. Sometimes our impulse will be to shut them down and not really explore what the fear is about. We aren’t able to let them take the time to do some healing. This is one of those situations when a good cry might be in order.
OK – take that deep breath (did you?) – OK – maybe take another one.
AND then try and stay curious about what’s REALLY going on inside – (we know you can do it…)
Also it’s a great time to whip out that pen and paper and make an empathy book with your child. An empathy books is a way for you to help your child express what she is feeling, thinking and experiencing. When you make a book with your child, you are building in a moment of reflection and letting them know that you are interested in what they are thinking and feeling. This brings connection and sheds light on situations that are sometime difficult for the child (and the parent) to deal with.
Luckily we have several great resources to help with empathy making books:
Empathy Books Video produced for Echo Parenting and Education by Patricia and Mechi Lakatos
Empathy Book making toolkit
Sample book: “Miyari’s Book about the Pirate”
Hope these resources are useful to you and we look forward to hearing how things go between now and our next newsletter – feel free to contact us on our blog, via facebook or by email!