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Using Storytelling to Navigate Emotions: an example story

As parents, we often encounter situations where our children struggle with their emotions. Storytelling and sensory play can be powerful tools to help them navigate these feelings. In this blog post, I'll share one of my personal experiences of helping my 4-year-old son, Myrddin, cope with his emotions through storytelling and sensory play.


Using Storytelling to Navigate Emotions

The Situation


Myrddin had been looking forward to a playdate with his best friend. Unfortunately, his friend fell ill and had to cancel their plans. Myrddin was visibly upset and disappointed, and it became clear that he was struggling with feelings of frustration and sadness.


Creating a Personalized Story


To help Myrddin process his emotions, I decided to create a personalized story for him. I introduced a relatable character named Finn, a young fox who was also disappointed when his plans to play with his friends got canceled. Finn's journey of navigating his emotions mirrored Myrddin's experience, helping him feel more connected to the story.


Creating Finn the Fox


Myrddin loves hand-drawn characters, and we have a box full of them made from plain paper and lamination material. Knowing this, I thought it would be a great idea to create Finn the Fox together with Myrddin. We drew Finn on paper, colored him, and then laminated the drawing. This allowed Myrddin to have a tangible character to interact with and made the story more engaging for him.


Using Storytelling to Navigate Emotions

Setting the Scene with Sensory Play


To further engage Myrddin and make the story come to life, I incorporated sensory play elements into our storytelling session. We decided to create a magical forest setting using a variety of materials. We laid out a green fabric to represent the grass and used small twigs, pine cones, and pebbles to create the forest floor. We even added a small stream made of blue ribbons to bring some movement to the scene. This immersive environment allowed Myrddin to fully dive into the story and relate to Finn's experiences.


Sharing the Story and Emotions


As we went through Finn's adventure, we talked about how Finn felt when his playdate was canceled and how he dealt with his emotions. I encouraged Myrddin to share his own feelings and thoughts, relating them to Finn's experiences.

  • How did Finn feel when he couldn't play with his friends?

  • Can you tell me how you felt when your playdate was canceled?

  • What do you think Finn could do to feel better?

These questions allowed Myrddin to express his emotions and empathize with Finn's feelings.


Using Storytelling to Navigate Emotions

Bringing the Lesson Home


As the story unfolded, Finn discovered that it's okay to feel disappointed, and he learned ways to cope with his emotions. We discussed alternative activities Finn could engage in and how he could still have fun despite the change in plans. This lesson resonated with Myrddin and helped him see that he could also find other ways to enjoy his day.


Conclusion


By creating a personalized story, drawing Finn the Fox together, and incorporating sensory play, I was able to help Myrddin navigate his emotions and gain a better understanding of how to cope with disappointment. As parents, storytelling and sensory play can be invaluable tools in guiding our children through their emotional journeys. Remember that the magic of storytelling comes from the heart, and there's no right or wrong way to share these precious moments with your child. Embrace your creativity and enjoy the memories you create together.

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