Child development social story

It is often painful to go through change and loss, and seeing our child hurt can be anguishing. While children adapt better than we do sometimes, it is important to honor their need to process an experience so they can understand it. With young children, creating a social story can help give you a meaningful way to handle emotional topics for you both. I had the opportunity to see this in action in my 4 year old. We had moved and I was finding it difficult to maintain keeping our beloved puppy at our new home. I toiled for weeks about the decision to let him go, flip flopping every few hours. It is not my nature to flip flop! Every time I tried to find a way to keep the dog, something would happen that told me I had too much on my plate. I finally made the difficult decision. I prepared my almost 5 year old son and allowed him to discuss anything he wished, acknowledging his thoughts and feelings. My son did not want to give our puppy a new home, but was able to have empathy for the puppy and would often say, “I think he’s lonely, let’s get home.”

I suggested to my boy that he may want to write a book of advice for the new owners. He thought that was a great idea, and dictated his story to me. I wrote what he said exactly, to allow for him to come to terms with the loss without telling him how he “should” feel. Friends gave a lot of advice too, “make it fun” for him to give away the dog, “show him you are O.K” even when I wasn’t. My aim was to teach him how to cope with feelings of loss and change by acknowledging the pain we were both feeling and recognize the reasons the decision was made. When we love, we do open ourselves to pain. Coping with what is true for us in a healthy way is always the best thing if we can do it. Feeling sad for a loss is a natural process of life. I was always careful through out not to assume that my child would feel the same as I did.

At one point he didn’t want to finish the illustrations in the book. I let that be, knowing that he might be ready later. The morning we were to give away the puppy, my sweet boy sat on his Papa’s lap and illustrated the book with him, telling stories of his time with puppy. He presented the book to the new owners, who he had helped choose, they read it in front of him, and thanked him.

I continue to marvel at The Magic of The Social Story for healing and moving forward. Writing is often healing for adults; of course it would be for young children. My son was able to understand his feelings better, while not being talked out of them. He had an opportunity to develop empathy, while contributing to the change in a meaningful way. Taking this kind of time to be present with my son likely avoided extra distress for him with this transition. The magic for me with this story was the closeness and trust this experience created with my son as we let go of our beloved pet.

Image Credit: pixabay

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Andrea Giammattei has a Master of Science in Special Education from Fordham University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Oneonta State University. She is a seasoned learning specialist, educational therapist, and counselor with over 25 years experience. She has worked in public and private schools, as well as in private practice. Andrea has a diverse interdisciplinary background, experience leading teams, and many years of experience working closely with students and parents in partnership. In private practice she performs educational assessments and designs individualized curriculum for students with varied learning differences including ADHD, dyslexia, Math disabilities, visual and language based challenges, sensory challenges and spectrum disorders. Andrea is passionate and clear that students need to be taught skills for emotional intelligence as well as cognitive intelligence, and that these skills are easily integrated. She believes the kids greatly desire to work hard and be successful. Students are creative and inspired to be their best in the right environment, and will expand to their unique potential when given the chance and with people who believe in them. As an innovative educational leader, teacher and counselor, Andrea strives to inspire motivating learning environments full of curiosity, the courage to take risks, and development of positive self-esteem. She believes that the relationship between a teacher and her students needs to be one of trust partnership and creativity. Andrea is the owner of Open Minds Learning. You can reach Andrea at 808 280 0535 or at . She is currently residing in NY City.


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