Stories, stories, fairy tales… We have all heard many stories until this age. The tales we heard from the elders of our house in our childhood still have a side that guides us with our inner voice, right? Stories and fairy tales have a truly extraordinary power of influence with their unique language and fiction. It is as if it passes through the conservative whirlpool of our thoughts with a gentle touch and reaches the depths of our hearts. This is exactly why we are most influenced by stories. We see that the importance of stories that have existed in every culture since ancient times is increasing day by day. Surprisingly, the stories told all over the world have common features and are often similar to each other. From a very young age, human beings learn about good and bad, right and wrong, what can happen to them as a result of their actions, in fact, many aspects of life through stories. At the same time, thanks to the stories circulating from language to language, children develop social behavior and abstract thinking styles over time.
Usually, when we look at many stories, we come across metaphors. Metaphors are the symbolic expression of complex thoughts or situations by analogy with another concrete situation or object for easier understanding. Metaphors are also part of the language we often use in our daily lives. Metaphor, which takes its roots from the Greek word metapherein (meta: beyond, upper; pherein: to carry), means indirect expression when we look at its most general definition. As it is known, an implicit thought is always hidden in metaphors.
Metaphors have been used for many years in psychological help processes. However, in recent years, it is seen that the importance of metaphors and their therapeutic use have increased. The contribution of metaphors is undeniable, especially in the therapeutic aid process for children. It is important to make children’s perceptions, thoughts and feelings in complex events and situations understandable, and metaphors are our quick and practical tools in this regard. Metaphors act as a mediator at the point of making sense of the mental confusion they experience and reduce cognitive confusion by associating the concrete with the abstract in the meaning-making process.
There are studies that reveal that the metaphorical process in children begins in the early stages of development. Studies have shown that simple metaphorical expressions emerge with the age of four, and that children in preschool and primary school can comprehend metaphors. Even if metaphorical comprehension becomes active in the mental process in early developmental stages, the linguistic ability to express understanding may not be sufficiently developed yet. For this reason, attention should be paid to the use of concepts included in children’s mental repertoire in metaphorical storytelling to children.
It is normal for children to experience anxiety and fear for themselves, their families and loved ones due to the (Covid-19) epidemic that we are experiencing worldwide and affecting us all. We should know that it is expected that children will show anxiety reactions in the face of difficult life events. When children experience stress and anxiety due to their developmental characteristics, they may have difficulty in making sense of their emotions due to their continuing cognitive development, not knowing how to manage their emotions fully, and their limitations in expressing their emotions, and they may reflect their emotions in different ways. In this case, in order to protect the psychological health of children, it is necessary to reduce uncertainty as much as possible and increase the perception of trust and competence.
One of the best ways to do this is with metaphorical stories. Metaphorical stories, which are frequently used in child therapies, help the child to make sense of their experiences, gain insight, develop different perspectives, and basically instill hope for the future. Since the problem or situation is covered implicitly in metaphorical stories, the child feels that he is not targeted and is not tried to be changed, and he is relieved. In this way, these stories, which overcome the resistance, sow seeds in the subconscious, triggering spontaneous change over time, and the child begins to heal at an unconscious level. In particular, metaphorical stories will be very facilitating and beneficial for a child whose emotional vocabulary and ability to express emotions is not sufficiently developed. Children may not easily give up the thoughts they hold on to and the negative emotions they experience. Metaphorical stories not only make it easier and more accessible to children, but also keep the child away from that situation by putting a distance between the event and the emotion.
In this difficult process we are going through, it will be extremely beneficial for children to receive support from the power of stories that convey the life we know and love very well from our own childhood to us with wisdom. You can reach metaphorical stories that can be read to children during the epidemic period on the website created by Child Therapist Mehmet Teber.
For children whose families are infected during the pandemic process;
Once upon a time, there were many cat families living on small farms. The cats would get up in the morning, drink the milk that the farmer gave them, and then go out to the garden of the farm and play and climb the trees. They were very happy together.
When spring comes, the flowers bloom. There was also a dandelion field here. Of course, the dandelion flowers also bloomed. Children call these flowers parachute flowers. Because when the wind blows, they fly into the sky and then slowly descend to the ground like parachutes.
One day a very strong wind blew. The parachute flowers on all the dandelions flew into the air. They were so numerous that they covered the entire sky.
Meanwhile, the cat family playing on top of a tree was unaware of the parachute flowers. While they were playing together, the little parachute flowers got into their mouths and they started coughing.
Hearing this, the forest kangaroos came immediately, put the cats in their pouches and took them to the forest hospital. The cats were taken to a private room. They said, ‘You cough to get the parachute flowers out of your body. As you cough, they’ll be gone. And we’ll give you healing cat food. And when your cough is gone, you will go home.’
The little cat was frightened at first, but the doctors treated her and her family very well. They coughed and felt sluggish, but everyone loved them and was working on their recovery.
After a while, the cats’ coughing stopped. The kangaroo doctors said, ‘Now you’re healed. Now you can go home.’ The cat family happily returned to their home and continued to play and climb trees as before. When they saw the parachute flowers, they blew ‘Puff’ away from them and watched them fly with joy.
You can read metaphorical stories to your children three nights in a row before they go to sleep. After the story is read, it is not tried to give a message to the child. The child is left alone with the metaphorical story. For this reason, after the story, do not ask and explain what he tells in the story. You can listen if the child shares what he feels or dreams.