Young or old, child or adult, expected or not, everybody moves into a new environment. New school, new neighborhood, or a new country, with time life, runs differently. If adults can feel the differences, children will surely experience a greater impact. Things that were used to be “normal” may not even exist in their new world. Therefore, it is common for them to feel anxious.
Parents should help their children to experience the different world. And stories help to make the process easier and funnier.
Stories introduce new ideas, new things, new characters, new lifestyle, which children could easily imagine. For example, “Thomas in the New World” brings the different environment that children will surely notice. From a big busy city that never sleeps to a tiny quiet village in the countryside.
While reading, parents could emphasize that there would be: lack of noise from cars, not a lot of people on the streets, and quieter surroundings. Encourage children to experience life in the countryside by taking care of the animals and flowers as well. Extend the reading by giving more examples than in the stories. Broaden their horizon, while preparing them for their new life.
As changes occur, many children may feel overwhelmed with their own feelings. Therefore, parents could use stories that show characters’ feelings. Compare children’s feelings with the character’s feelings and their struggle to fit in their new world. This can help children understand their own feelings. What is strange, what is scary, what things may make them upset, what kind of things would make them amazed, among others. So, they know that there are other children who feel the way they do. That they are not alone, and they should not suppress their feeling.
Usually, every child has their own learning curve. First, they try to face their fear of all different things. And then they may reluctantly try new things. If the results were positive, they would be more confident and started to enjoy their new world. But when the results were not as they expected, children may start to lose trust and become overwhelmed.
Parents could choose stories with a similar situation. So, the children can learn from the decisions taken by the characters in the stories and parents can ask what they will do if they are in the same situation. Do they think they can do it better than the characters? Or will they do a totally different thing? Encourage them to explore all possibilities. Emphasize the funny part of the characters’ failure. Make them understand that negative results must not always end with frustration.
But it is not only children who can learn from stories, parents also get their own benefit. With stories, parents could see things from children’s point of view. It gives parents understanding how children see their world. What kind of danger they might (or might not) be aware of, what kind of impact of a different dynamic in the community for them, to name some things parents might not see from children’s eyes.
This will help both parents and children immensely. In a world full of new and unpredictable things, they need to be emotionally safe. This can only be achieved if children were able to predict how their parents would react to their problems. If their parents cannot understand their struggles, who else will?
Experiencing a completely different world is never an easy task, but familiar stories, with similar characters who went through similar things, will guide children and parents through it more easily.
About the Author:
Kusumastuti Fischer is an Indonesian author, who is living in Austria. To date, she had published hundreds of magazines articles and eighteen books in a variety of genres, including children, young adult, parenting, and romance.