Monday, 9 December 2013

Healing Stories for Children (And Parents!)

My overall aim as a parent is to do so within the context that I am totally cared for, loved and held and to let my children know that they are too. It really is that simple.

And one of the easiest and most effective ways I have found to help children understand their experiences in this context is to tell healing stories to help with their emotions and struggles. After I started doing this in our family, I discovered that people have dedicated entire books and teachings to this, so please know this is simply my own intuitive version of a much larger and more deeply explored technique!

Telling healing stories is central to how I communicate with my children and help them move back to their centre and to remember they are never alone and always being held and loved. It also really helps me do the same. 

It really is very simple once you get the hang of it. You find a 'parallel story' with just enough links to address the central theme you are observing in your child. I usually use animals as the characters and the setting is usually the forest - somewhere natural and rejuvenating and magical. And then you let the story play out in a short, simple way and reach a resolution that feels safe and complete. I always include the spiritual level of support that is around us - for us, we talk about our angels and how they are always there in every moment.

Here is an example from my weekend to illustrate how I do it:

I had to go out on Sunday and my son, who has just turned three, is in a phase of not wanting to let me out of his sight even for a moment. I had made a plan for him to stay with my mum for the morning. He was staying with her in our family home, which is completely familiar to him and he has been cared for by my mum since he was a baby. So I knew he would be fine and I also knew the moment of separation would be hard, which it was.  

He had a big scream when I left but within moments I received a picture from my mum and he was dressed as a pirate and happily decorating the Christmas tree (thank goodness for modern technology!) and I was able to enjoy my parenting course knowing that he was happy. 

Later on at bedtime, I gently began our sleep-time story. It was about a little hedgehog whose mummy needed to go out to collect wood and could not take her little hedgehog with her. I felt Christopher's body relax and his attention became very focussed. I said 'The mummy hedgehog went out of the door and her little hedgehog got very sad.' Christopher whispered: 'Did he scream and say open the door?' 'Yes,' I said, 'But he was only sad for a moment. Because when he turned around, he saw his sister waiting to play with him, his grandma and grandpa ready to snuggle him and he remembered his angel was right there too. And he knew his mummy would be back soon.' 

And then I told the story (I kept it very short and simple) including the moment when the little hedgehog found his mummy and all was well again. 

And, through telling the story, I know he felt acknowledged and affirmed but only because there was no direct reference to him. It is too intense and literal for a child (and some adults even) to have something brought up directly and personally but they can relate to healing stories and feel strengthened by having their experience described this way. 

And it strengthens me too - the shape of the stories and the completion we feel builds our trust that we are held, that emotions and unpleasant experiences, which we do not welcome in the moment, have a wider context of healing and growth and purpose. 

It is also a way to get your creativity into action. Imagining landscapes and describing them in the story, thinking of just the right metaphor is fun and the more you do it, the more intuitive you become with it. Often I just start speaking and the story comes from my higher self - in a way I wouldn't have been able to think of using my logical mind.

I have also done this for years with my daughter. Her particular fear has always been getting lost or separated from us - it has just always been there, even though she has spent few moments away from family members or loved and trusted teachers. 

After many fearful dreams and thoughts over the years, the other morning, all of our stories and gentle time spent talking about safety, being cared for by her angels and being found, came to fruition. She woke up in the morning and said 'Mum, I had the best dream ever. I was in the forest and I was lost but then I saw a house made of light. I decided to go over and knock on the door and an angel opened it and invited me in. I lived there for my whole life.' And she skipped off. 

I really believe that this was a very healing story for her to dream - and for her to decide to go over to the house felt significant. She knows this presence is there and she trusts it. And I know the healing stories have provided the bricks for this foundation. 

I would love to hear if others have used healing stories - and also I always love new ideas... Please share any comments either here or on the Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you. 


  1. I LOVE this Hollie! I haven't usually made up stories of my own with my kids - I can see now I should! I have always been a bit nervous about doing it (what if I can't think of what to say half way through?!?!) but I can see from your example that they don't have to be complicated to be powerful :) I really cannot express how much my life has changed and how much closer to myself I have become since I started reading your blog/daily facebook musings. Your voice seems to be the one I need to hear at this point in my life. Thank you for sharing your journey so freely with us all, you have such a gift for expressing your thoughts in a meaningful and connecting way, and it is touching so many peoples lives (not just us readers, but our families too!) Love and blessings xx

  2. Thanks so much Clare - let me know how your storytelling progresses! x