Name Change

Try this simple name change trick to have a deep, rich conversation with a child.

By Summer Rose, Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist | Jun 17, 2015
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Today's post comes from Summer Rose, a psychologist on our team.
I have a lot of children’s books in my office that are written for specific situations – books about dealing with anxiety, parents getting divorced, bullying, etc. These types of books are great, as they help kids feel like they’re not alone with what they’re feeling. We read these books out loud together and then we discuss.
One thing I do when reading one of these books is change the name of the main character. So first we’ll read a book like, “Wilma Jean the Worry Machine” all the way through. Then we’ll read it a second time, except this time it will be, “Sebastian the Worry Machine.”

The new version replaces “Wilma Jean” with “Sebastian”, so we’ll read:
“My name is Sebastian. Last Friday, I didn’t want to get out of bed because I didn’t want to go to school… so I pretended to be asleep. I think I had the worry flu.”

I’ll ask Sebastian questions like:
“What do you think the worry flu feels like?”
“What do you think Sebastian is worried about?”
“What advice would you give Sebastian to help him get out of bed?”
It hard for a kid to sit in a therapist’s office and say, “I feel worried when I wake up in the morning.” But it’s a little easier for a kid to talk about a character in a book. If I ask Sebastian those same questions directed at him, they sound like,
“What does it feel like when you’re worried?”
“What are you so worried about?”
“What can you do to stop worrying?”
Those are much harder questions to answer.
You can use this same strategy with any number of children’s books. I have a whole bunch that cover a range of topics. By switching out the name of the main character and having the client take on the book character’s perspective, we’re able to have a deep, rich discussion that we wouldn’t otherwise have.