For a long time, a fairy tale has been known to our ancestors as one of the best ways to influence a child. Gradually, confidence in this genre increased so much that even a separate psychotherapeutic method called “fairy tale therapy” appeared, whose effectiveness was repeatedly confirmed in practice.

What is fairy tale therapy

Fairy tale therapy is a psychological method of interaction with a child, the purpose of which is to correct the child’s behavioral reactions and help in solving his personal and emotional problems with the help of fairy tales.

Today, fairy tale therapy is widely used by teachers, psychologists, psychotherapists, and even parents. The advantage of fairy tale therapy is that it is suitable for all children, even those who have developmental features (psychophysical, emotional-volitional). This is because a fairy tale is not just a story, it is also a form of knowledge.

A fairy tale, although a fairly universal way of solving children’s psychological problems, has a number of features. First of all, not every fairy tale, namely a psychotherapeutic one, can treat and help. Children of different ages rely on different types of fairy tales:

  • Up to 5-6 years old, it is better to work with fairy tales about magic, animals, reincarnations, with cyclic clear plots;
  • From 6 years and older, you can already work with fairy tales that are diverse in structure and plot, which the child himself will choose.

Why fairy tales? The fact is that this literary genre is an excellent tool for transferring skills, experience, skills, and knowledge. Most of them incorporate concepts of moral categories that a child can learn in an accessible, understandable form. In addition, fairy tales are great for giving children direction (do/don’t, say/don’t say) because they are built on allegories.

Fairy tale therapy as a system includes many sub-methods:

  • storytelling;
  • writing fairy tales;
  • staging fairy tales;
  • alteration of existing fairy tales;
  • puppet therapy, sand stories, drawing fairy tales and other options for art therapy.

Fairy tale therapy is a synthesis of the achievements of psychology, psychotherapy, pedagogy and philosophy.

Advantages and benefits of fairy tale therapy

They turn to fairy tale therapy, of course, because of its effectiveness. This method really allows you to solve many children’s problems. In particular, fairy tale therapy helps:

  • save the child from obsessive fears and phobias;
  • to form in children the skills of building interaction with society;
  • gently and effectively correct behavioral and emotional disorders in a child;
  • gain new emotional experience;
  • relieve stress, tension, anxiety;
  • reveal information about which the child deliberately does not report;
  • to speak out, to show emotions, feelings and experiences;
  • establish contact between the child and a parent or friend;
  • solve everyday problems (problem going to bed, bad childhood habits, etc.).

Who is the method of fairy tale therapy suitable for?

The method of fairy tale therapy is suitable for all children, starting from an early age. Even if the child is very small, then simple forms of this technique can be used, for example, reading (including group reading of fairy tales). Since fairy tales are classified depending on what problem the child is faced with, we can conclude for which children fairy tale therapy will be the most effective and effective:

  • for children experiencing fears (darkness, heights, doctors, dogs);
  • for children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder);
  • for children with behavioral disorders and physiological symptoms (enuresis, overeating, hunger, self-harm);
  • for children faced with family problems (divorce of parents, the appearance of a stepfather or stepmother, the birth of a brother or sister, etc.);
  • for children faced with loss (death of loved ones, pet, etc.).

How fairy tale therapy works

Psychotherapists call a fairy tale a metaphor that allows you to look into the inner world of a child. In a fairy tale, all images have their own meaning. The child initially either associates himself with a particular character(s) or speaks out his feelings natively (that is, using the role of a narrator).

The story gives the child the opportunity to solve the problem in different ways. For example, turning back time to experience many different endings. It can help you go through some pleasant experience again. Sometimes it is enough for children to simply speak out the problem in order to clarify something. The fairy tale itself sets the path of movement: whether it will be a change of roles, a new fairy tale, a reworking of an old story, or just improvisation, depends on the goal.

How to come up with a therapeutic fairy tale with your child

You can do fairy tale therapy with a baby even at home, without visiting a specialist. But in order for the session to be truly effective and useful, you will need to follow 3 important rules:

1. The fairy tale should be identical to the children’s problem, but should not completely repeat it (this is still not a novel or a memoir, but a fictional story);

2. The fairy tale must have a substitute experience (the child must see the points of contact with the character or the situation) and thereby evoke a response in the child;

3. A fairy tale should have a logical beginning (“once upon a time”) and an ending (“he began to live and live and make good”) and a certain message.

First of all, it is necessary to arouse interest in the child. Therefore, when working with kids, a fairy tale can begin like this: “Once upon a time there was a baby giraffe who was afraid of heights just like you.” Older children (senior preschool age) will be interested in writing fairy tales themselves or completing stories that have already been started. This is very effective, since the child’s subconscious attitudes and experiences are manifested in his fantasy and those storylines that he will build. It turns out that for a fairy tale, he chooses the ending that he considers acceptable for himself.

A good basis for fairy tale therapy can be, for example, «The Ugly Duckling». If a child has low self-esteem, then Andersen’s fairy tale, through transformation and improvisation, will become an excellent tool for self-acceptance.

Interestingly, it is scary tales with unexpected twists, but a cheerful ending that help fight fear, stress and tension. Living in such anxious situations trains stress resistance: “In a black-black city, in a black-black house, there lived a girl who was very afraid of the dark …”.

Until the age of six, it is better to limit yourself to reading, writing and discussing fairy tales. Fairy tales with a clear structure and storyline are best suited (“Morozko”, “Fedorino’s grief”, “Porridge from an ax”). But at primary school age, it is already possible to connect other elements of fairy tale therapy (drawing, staging, etc.).

A standard psychotherapeutic fairy tale should be built taking into account the fears, characteristics, character of the child and his needs. A good example of writing and using fairy tales is in the book Doris Brett “Once upon a time there was a girl like you. Psychotherapeutic stories for children».

We have touched upon in the article only a small part of the description of the method of fairy tale therapy. If you can’t cope on your own, be sure to seek help from a child psychologist.

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