Communicating with your child is an essential aspect of learning. From a very early age, children try to copy the behavior of adults, as they think they are the only correct ones and should always behave in this way. In addition to their movements, they also copy the remarks of their parents or carers. This builds up a basic vocabulary and the child’s first movements. If the child is constantly talking to it, it will not only be able to repeat the essential words but will also start to respond to them. Communication, therefore, plays a significant role in a child’s learning from a very early age.
This paper aimed to practice communicating with children aged 5 to 8 years old and use the “mutual storytelling” technique to communicate with children. The object of mutual storytelling is to offer the child an opportunity to explore different alternatives in a neutral communication process with a helping person (Snyder, 2002). The Mutual Storytelling Technique is a method of therapeutic communication with children. In it, the therapist elicits a self-created story from the child, surmises its psychodynamic meaning, and then creates a story of his own using the same characters in a similar setting. The therapist’s story differs from that of the child in that he introduces healthier resolutions and mature adaptations (Gardner, 2016).
Last May 7, 2022, at one thirty in the afternoon. I had a chance to chat and play with my neighbour’s son Baby M, not his real name. Baby M is 5years old and is attending kindergarten, only child of the couple. I asked permission from parents to conduct a conversation with their child as part of the requirement for my schooling. His parents permitted me to work on storytelling with him. The parents give me ideas on how to approach Baby M and brief information about him. The writer informed the parents days before the meet-up that the child’s name would be disclosed and everything would be confidential. Stories, metaphors, myths, legends and fairy tales have said to have many functions, including the transmission of familial and cultural lore, the expression of feelings, the relation of personal information, and the communication of values and knowledge (Gardner, 2016). In addition, stories are used to explore and discover solutions to challenging situations and dilemmas with which children may be confronted in normal maturational development (Bettelheim, 2010).
While He was engaged in telling his story, I wrote down some notes to help me analyze the story at the end and his response to the moral of the story. I asked questions about specific items in the story, but he was too busy drawing. The purpose here is to obtain additional details, which are often of help in understanding the story.
Outcomes of the Approach
I have drawn some conclusions from my discussions with a young child. Some of them surprised me, and some of them seemed pretty obvious. One of the trivial ones was that the child was not in the mood to talk and only wanted to play. It is massive stress for children to have someone else talking to them. Despite this, after spending some time together, it was as if the child had changed completely. He started to trust and communicate as if we had known each other for a long time. The essential thing to make a child want to communicate is to spend some time with them to understand that there is nothing to be afraid of.
You never know how the child will turn the story around and what they will say in the next moment. That’s the thing about working with children, they are very unpredictable, and you have to have a lot of imagination to be able to turn a story in the right direction. In the case of my talk with Child M, I was lucky, and it was pretty easy to find the right message in the story, which is the most crucial aspect of this activity. The child also has a sense of empathy, which also has an impact on their future upbringing.
I enjoyed using this technique directly affect the child’s subconscious mind in a comfortable environment. Child M did not have to try hard to make it enjoyable to learn the moral principle about the value of parents by listening and composing a story that is very close to reality. It is also important to note that when communicating, the child opens up even more to the interlocutor, which also plays an important role when interacting with the child. Suppose we view this method not from the perspective of the one who is listening but of the one who is conducting the conversation. In that case, we can safely say that we do not have to worry about how the child will react but instead guide them to specific thoughts in this direct interaction with the child. In general, working with a child in the format of telling a story that they make up is an excellent idea and helps lay down basic moral principles even at a very early age.
Bettelheim, B. (2010). The uses of enchantment : the meaning and importance of fairy tales. New York: Vintage Books.
Gardner, R. A. (2016). Mutual Storytelling Technique. Fideli Publishing.
Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope for the journey : helping children through good times and bad. Clinton Corners, N.Y.: Percheron Press.