Helping & Healing
Support for Children in a Time of Fear & Crisis (Eight Free Stories)

August 6, 2019
Support for Children in a Time of Fear & Crisis (Eight Free Stories)

As of yesterday, August 5th, there have been 255 mass shootings in the United States in 2019. That's more than days of the year thus far. The recent shootings in Gilroy, CA, Dayton, and El Paso have been nearly back-to-back. They have only deepened the anxiety and fear that Americans are struggling to learn to manage as our country faces this crisis of violence. It's staggering.

 

How to help our children in the face of this?

Here's what we believe they need:

 

1) To be assured: "You are Safe and the World is Good."

David wrote an excellent article about this in 2016, after the shooting in Orlando.

The bottom line: children will settle if they understand that the adults are there for them, that all the adults they know and love will protect them, and that even though the world contains great pain, it is good. It is deeply good.

 

2) As much as possible, to be protected from the details of the events. (For younger children.)

We were very protective of our boys when they were younger, as I've always believed young children do not need to be made aware of the details of current events about which they have no power or agency.

Children grow and develop best in a sense of safety and well-being — we ALL grow best this way — so unless it was relevant to their day-to-day, or necessary for maintaining their safety, I would refrain from telling my children anything about horrific events, and we certainly shielded them from screen-based news media.

If our kiddos had heard bits of news and had questions, we gave as few details as possible. By the time they were in late elementary school, they had enough of a strength of self and solid sense of the world around them, that they felt robust enough to manage more information.

(It's important here to note that we are an anglo family, are Christian, and have a traditional family structure, and therefore are privileged. Because of this, we are safer in the United States than any other race or nationality, faith, sexuality, or family structure.)

 

3) For adults to regulate their own emotions around these events.

As best we can, we have to do the work of processing our own rage, grief, fear, and anxiety. There is a myriad of ways to create space for this: talking with friends or professionals, journaling, EFT Tapping, breathwork, or just simply buildilng time to get present and feel the feelings.

Our children easily sense the emotional frequency of the adults around them (as I'm sure you know if you are a parent or caregiver — one of those intensely frustrating but deeply true realities of parenting). They can settle more easily if you are settled.

 

4) To make a safe space for our children to feel and express their own feelings.

It's a gift to your child to slow down and get present when children are agitated or afraid - or feeling any big emotion for that matter.

With my own, I do my best to listen. And then listen. And then listen some more, while I try to stay present with myself. It's tough, because I generally have lots to say, and much advice to give. But with big emotions, we all just need space. The deepest healing comes when there is a present witness who does little but offer kindness, patience, and love.

 

If your children are struggling with worry, fear or trauma, we have free stories to help.

It's a part of our mission to create stories to support kids through difficult times. Stories can be a transformative force for kids — as they follow the characters in the stories through a challenge and then out the other side into healing, they too can experience healing and strengthening.

Here are some of our very best stories to support children with worry, fear, and trauma:

 

Prince

from the Helping and Healing Handy Toolbelt of Stories

This story is to support children through the experience of a sudden loss or crisis.

This is a story about a young girl named Lee, who loves her little black dog Prince. But one day, Prince is suddenly killed by a speeding car. The girl not only has to come to grips with the abrupt loss of her dog, but she also manages questions like “Who was it? Why didn’t they stop? How could they do it?”. And the ultimate message from her loving parents is this: We love you. It is OK to be sad. We are holding you. And we will do everything we can to prevent this from happening again.

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Denny and the Could Bee

from the Helping and Healing Handy Toolbelt of Stories

This story helps children who are struggling with worry.

“Denny and the Could Bee” and it is all about the insidious nature of imagining what ‘could’ happen. Rumors, exaggerations, fearful stories and even simple wonderings have ‘Could Bees’ buzzing around in them. Luckily Mr. James, Denny’s kindergarten teacher, has a way of shooing those Could Bees away and allowing the truth of the matter to become clear.

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Helpers

from the Helping and Healing Handy Toolbelt of Stories

This story is for children who have experienced a natural disaster (inspired by Mr. Roger's great quote).

Dennis is a happy little six year old boy who wakes one morning to see his mother listening to the radio in the kitchen. She turns it off, but Dennis can tell that something is wrong and that his mother is feeling sad — and maybe a little scared. She explains that something happened, a big storm moved through a town, and buildings were damaged and people were hurt. When she sees that this is making him feel nervous, she scoops him up and tells him, “I know that when something like this happens — when there are very strong winds or other kinds of storms — people around the world will know about it. And do you know what they do when they find out? They will help.”

She then tells him how all the people on their street, in their neighborhood, and in their town want to make sure that he, Dennis, is safe.

“But you know what, Dennis?” his Mother asked, raising her eyebrows, “It is time for us to be the helpers. There are people that are feeling scared right now because a storm came to their house. Our house is fine and so are we. Are you ready to be a helper?”

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Someone Else's Dragon

from the Helping and Healing Handy Toolbelt of Stories

This story supports children who have glimpsed something that has frightened them.

The people of Solvei’s village have a yearly festival that marks the end of the growing season and the beginning of the dark time. In this joyful celebration, the villagers dress as dragons that represent the things they fear. Solvei is too young to attend, but is so excited that she sneaks a peek on the night of the festival — and comes home with many different fears from the “dragons” that she saw there. Her mother explains that she has taken on ‘someone else’s dragon’ and then helps Solvei give the fears back so she can fall peacefully asleep.

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Unshaking Shakira

from the Helping and Healing Handy Toolbelt of Stories

This is a story for children who have experienced a trauma, and helps them to physically process the experience.

On her first slow walk out to the end of a red mangrove branch, Shakira, the pygmy sloth experienced something sudden: the branch broke off. She and the branch fell down to the ground, and though she was fine — no breaks or bruises — she was still rather shaken up. Luckily her mother had fallen many times and knew what to do — she would 'unshake' her — or help her body let go of the accident.

Note: This story can be useful for when your child (or anyone really) needs support after an accident. In fact, the story was written for some dear friends who had just gotten into a car accident, and though they escaped with only bruises, both children were pretty rattled. The story gives a body-based exercise that anyone can use.

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The Dragon and the Unicorn

from the Helping and Healing Handy Toolbelt of Stories

This story helps children manage big emotions.

There was once a land far to the north that was held in healthy balance by a dragon and a unicorn. When the people of that land tried to control the dragon, the unicorn returned to the clouds and the people suddenly experienced what it was like to manage pure power — the power of a dragon’s emotions.

This is a story about the big emotions that all children feel. It gives guidance on how to be both the dragon (emotional) and the unicorn (presence through the emotions) at the same time.

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Stories to Help Us Vision New Possiblities

Tadodaho and the Great White Pine: A Story About True Leadership

from the Helping and Healing Handy Toolbelt of Stories

This is the story of how the Iroquois Nation came to be and how peace, compassion, and unity is stronger than fear, violence, and war. Tadodaho is the fierce monster leading the Onondaga Nation — he lives in a swamp and has snakes in his hair. When the Great Peacemaker and Hiawatha come to him with a message of peace and unity, what happens next not only transforms a tyrant into a true leader, but also creates a new nation.

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Whatever Power I Have

from the Dry Gables: Hands Together collection

This story is about channeling feelings of anger and revenge into service.

When Johann's dear friend, Iron Eyes, and a number of other Lakota people perish in a battle with the United States Army, Johann is, of course, furious and ready to take revenge. Luckily, Liesl Herz, the town's nurse and primary healer, sympathizes with him and then suggests that before he confronts the army, consider helping those in need — those left behind. This is a transformative moment for Johann, who is used to action — not reflection — and is more comfortable with his will, rather than his feelings. But it is exactly what he needs to do in that moment and Johann channels all his feelings and desire to fight into authentic service to those in need.

Parent Note: This story references the tragic events of what has come to be known as the "Wounded Knee Massacre". Though the story does not use this particular language, the event is key in the transformation of the main character, Johann. We feel that children who have studied American History and are 8 years or older would have encountered events like this in their studies, but parents should be warned that the death of a particular Lakota friend is an important part of the narrative.

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Month Eleven: What is Precious

from the Martin & Sylvia: Day of Rest Collection

This story is all about the value of the support of friends & family.

Halloween is over, the leaves have fallen from the trees, the first frost has turned the grass brown and the garden needs to be put to sleep for the winter … and no one wants to do anything except lie on the couch and watch the fire in the woodstove. That is … until they receive a phone call from Mr. Brown next door. It seems his older brother, who has been sick for some time, would like Mr. and Mrs. Brown with him in his last days. So Mr. Brown asks brother and sister’s family for help - and even though it is the first day of rest of November, they are ready to help however they can. And what they learn is that helping out friends is, in Mr. Brown’s words, precious.

Parent Note: This story does involve the prospect of Mr. Brown's older brother dying in the near future - which is why the Brown's need support from Martin and Sylvia's family. The language around this prospect is filled with gratitude and sweetness, but families who are careful about the subject of death may wish to listen to the story before sharing it with their children.

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Playlists for Self-Care

If you'd like to inspire more self-care in your house, for kids in parents alike, then we have two playlists for you on the streaming website.

Stories for Taking Care of Yourself

Stories for the Growns: Parent Care


Prince

Prince


Denny and the Could Bee: A Story for Worrying

Denny and the Could Bee: A Story for Worrying


Helpers

Helpers


Someone Else's Dragon

Someone Else's Dragon


Unshaking Shakira: the Pygmy Sloth who Fell

Unshaking Shakira: the Pygmy Sloth who Fell


The Dragon and the Unicorn

The Dragon and the Unicorn


Tadodaho and the Great White Pine: A Story About True Leadership

Tadodaho and the Great White Pine: A Story About True Leadership


Month Eleven:  What Is Precious

Month Eleven: What Is Precious



Important note: in our experience, stories can be much more effective than explanations. We don’t think you need to follow up with a discussion or make analogies with stories — just let them sink in and become a part of your child’s picture of a safe, good world.


If you know someone who has been directly affected by violence in the U.S. or elsewhere:

...and could benefit from these and other Sparkle Stories, please let us know. We will gift them a subscription. Simply email us at customerservice@sparklestories.com.

About the Author

Lisabeth Sewell

Doer of Many Wonderful and Odd Things (including CEO)

Lisabeth Sewell has worn many hats at Sparkle over the years, from Sparkle Kitchen Blogger to Editorial Director to Doer of All Odd Jobs. Her primary role is as CEO.

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