We are huge fans of “The Whole-Brain Child” by Drs. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, and we love“The Whole-Brain Child Workbook” that came out earlier this year. It’s an accompaniment to the book that allows parents to take notes and reflect on their relationship with their children.
One strategy that stands out among many is “Tell Me a Story”. This is a great tool to use to help quell anxiety around upcoming events. Tina Payne Bryson shares about her son’s first day of school. Before school started, they visited his future classroom and met his teacher. They took photos of the room, the playground, the bathroom, etc. Then together they made a very detailed book about what his first day of school would look like.
The first page said:
Today is a school day for J.P. He gets to go to his own school! He will learn fun things and play with friends. First J.P. gets ready for school. He eats a healthy breakfast. He brushes his teeth, then he picks out his clothes and gets dressed all by himself. He’s such a big boy!
This is a great tool to use for any big experience – the holidays, a trip, a new house, a new baby, a doctor’s appointment. Taking an emotional experience and translating it into words, especially in a clear, linear way, integrates the left and right hemispheres of the brain and allows the child to make sense of the experience.
They suggest three main storytelling priorities:
Thanks to Drs. Siegel and Bryson for this wonderful activity. We hope it helps your kids navigate an anxiety-inducing experience with calmness and understanding.