How to craft a ‘Healing Story’ for your child


fairytaleAn ancient human tradition, oral storytelling has now become a lost art. We once gathered around the fire to listen to the stories of our Grandfather’s Grandfathers, to the quests of great conquerers and the legends of brave Princes and High Priestesses. Now it seems we are increasingly relying upon visual media to sugar-coat, water-down and simplify these once wise stories now presented to our children on a screen that lulls them into a one-dimensional world of little sensory input and moral diversity and nil imagination.

Oral storytelling empowers children (and adults!) to listen deeply and to imagine characters places and things in their own mind’s eye without any outside help or prompting. Oral storytelling lays the foundation for literacy, exposing children to the rhythm of language and rich vocabulary while conveying societal virtues, values and wisdom.

Stories can also be deeply healing. In her book, Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour, Susan Perrow writes,

“Therapeutic storytelling is a gentle, easy yet often very effective means of addressing difficult topics with children. The story form offers a healing medium that allows children to embark on an imaginative journey, rather than being lectured or directly addressed about their behaviour. By identifying with the main character or characters, the child is empowered as obstacles are overcome and a resolution achieved.”

Each of the seasonally-inspired stories in the Whole Family Rhythms Guides contain characters who face and overcome specific internal and external conflicts. But what if our child is presently facing a specific challenge of his/her own?


We as parents can write and tell a personalized therapeutic story which acts as a metaphor for the current challenges our child faces.


Below is a loose guide to help you write your child a “healing story”. I encourage you to ‘free write’ (stream of consciousness-writing) your ideas and answers to each of the following questions and then sleep on them. The following day you can reflect back on your answers, create a skeletal plot and start writing.


Identify the Challenge that needs to be overcome.

Why are you writing this story?

  • Has there been a death in the family, an act of violence, increased anger or fighting in the family, is the child dealing with a particular behavioural challenge (eg. biting, hitting, pinching)?
  • is the child resisting a specific transition (eg. bedtime, going to school, mealtime & foods)?


Identify the Need.

How is the child feeling and what does the child need?

  • Identify what he/she is feeling (scared, alone, angry, frustrated, jealous etc.) and
  • what is needed to counteract this (bravery, sense of support, strength, understanding, adventurousness, clarity, frequent and little reminders, repetition, acceptance etc.)


Identify the Course of Action and Resolution.

Is there some way that the situation can empower the child to see the challenge in a new light?

  • Challenges require change of some sort. How can the story inspire unconscious change in the child’s behaviour?  As an example, a resistance to new foods can be reflected in a story as missing out on adventure. The story of a prince who doesn’t want to leave the confines of the castle. Everyone around him leaves and returns with exciting stories and having made discoveries without him until he finally decides to “just try a taste” of the outside world whereupon he learns he loves it!


Identify the Characters.

Who will represent the current feelings/challenges the child has and resolve them?

  • A hero or heroine. This may be a plant or animal, a fairy or gnome or prince or princess. Choose something the child loves or admires or a character with similar challenging behaviours (for example a snappy crab).
  • A “protector”, “sage”, “guru” or “confidante. This character is not essential but helpful. It is someone who supports the hero on his/her journey. For example, a best friend, a wise old owl, an angel or fairy godmother.
  • A villain or wrong-doer or a physical or mental challenge. Someone or something who presents challenges the hero/ine must overcome.


Outline the plot.

What are the possible storylines and lessons learned?

  • The plot should have an introduction to set the scene, a challenge to overcome and a well resolved solution to the hero/ine’s problem.
  • When writing make sure that the challenge is made very clear and that the character explores all possible resolutions to the problem while considering his/her moral conduct.
  • Make sure the story mirrors the actions the child needs to reflect in his/her own life.
  • Make sure the character’s range of feelings are verbally made clear both before and after the story’s resolution. For example, The Prince felt anxious, scared and slightly angry before he embarked on his Quest and when he returned he felt relieved, self-assured and content.
  • End with a celebration of the character’s triumph and achievements and a acknowledgement of his/her hard work to get there.


Tell the Story.

After you have written your story read it over each night before bed fro a few days so that you can make changes if you wish and also to imprint it indoor memory. When you tell the story be sure to find a quiet time with your child when you will be undisturbed. I find lying in bed with them right before lights go out is the best.

What is most magic about writing a story for our own child is that before we have even told our child their story, so much healing has already occurred. In clarifying the problem for ourselves (the parent) we approach it with a newer and more empathetic perspective both consciously and unconsciously and which puts is on a new path towards change.


The first story I ever wrote for my eldest didn’t even reach his ears! The moment I put everything to paper the sense of clarity I achieved about the situation at hand enabled me to shift my thoughts and actions enough to clear the “challenge” completely. Other stories I tell to my young ones are personalized favourites. “Jack the Monkey” is a silly little story I made up on the spot for my daughter Juniper before bed one night. I am still not entirely sure why she adores it so much (although I’ve thought long and hard about it) but for months she has consistently begged for that story before bed. Without much thought I created a story that has deep meaning for her.

I encourage you to take the time to try this exercise if you feel your child is struggling with a specific challenge. I highly recommend both of Susan Perrow’s books on the subject for more in-depth information and inspiration including age-appropriate tips and many story samples that you can use yourself for specific behavioural challenges.

Please do come back here and share your experiences with this in the comments section if you(‘ve) try it! The Whole Family Rhythms tribe is a community of like-minded women who love to learn from head other and we truly value your thoughts, ideas and insight!

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Thank you for your support.

Book Club : Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter Two

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the second chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary each week and would love you to join in an interactive conversation about your reflections in the comments section.


Chapter Two World of Dreams : The Sanctuary of Sleep

  • sleep is sacred
  • we are entering a world where we can connect with our greater selves again
  • sleep heals the earthly wounds we acquire through the day (however small)
  • saying goodnight to our children requires a “letting go” from us – we are allowing their souls to return “home”
  • this is an act of acknowledging they are not ours alone

Nurturing Children in the Sanctuary of Sleep

  • sleep can be a frightening or difficult transition for some children (and adults)
  • there is some truth in the saying that sleep is the brother of death: in order to leave earth we must “die a little death” p. 36
  • bedtime rituals help our children feel safe in their journey to this other world
  • prayers and songs that embrace courage and strength are good choices

Settling Into the Evening

  • we need to start the slowing down for the evening quote early
  • try to make the time after dinner just for family connection
  • turn off screens, centre ourselves at this time

How Much is Enough?

  • Dr Richard Fried an M.D. Gave the following guidelines at the Magical Years Conference (including day sleeps)
  • 8 mo-18mo – 15 hours, 18-4 years mo- 14 hours, 4-6 years- 12 hours, 7-10years- 11-12 hours, 10-11 years- 10 hours, 12-13 years- 9 hours, 14 and up- 8 hours
  • it’s easy to miss the window of opportunity to get a child to sleep on time. Like adults, children can get a “second wind”.
  • quiet time and rest time for younger children helps to ease their body and mind and also potentially facilitate a small nap
  • sleeping areas should be warm, dark, comfortable
  •  bedtime rituals such as songs, prayers, lavender oil, balms or massages all create a state of relaxation and calm

Blessings to Create a Sanctuary of Sleep

  • Advice to spend quality time together in the hours before sleep- talking, reading, connecting by candlelight gaze into each other’s eyes and recite blessings or verses to one another
  • Enjoy a moment of touch before bed- therapeutic massages
  • Call on Angels or Protectors to watch over us while we sleep
  • For teenagers a nighttime journal with pre-written prompts (such as “Something I am struggling with” or “A problem I’m having” etc.) may be helpful
  • Say a blessing before bed that depicts your child full of “wisdom, love and the intention of serving others” She mentions a beautiful blessing here
  • Adults read through or mediate on your personal visions- the realities you wish to create in your life. This is also a good time to meditate or pray/ask for help from a higher source


This chapter was a good reminder that the stronger our Evening Rhythm is the easier the transition is towards sleep. It also highlighted to me the importance of empathizing with my young children- sleep is something that can actually be scary if we are not very good at ‘letting go’. I know from our own experience that in times of angst where bedtime has become more of a struggle that therapeutic touch has been a great help, especially with soothing essential oils such as lavender and chamomile. What insights did you gain from this chapter? Do you have any special rituals you’d like to share?

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Thank you for your support.

“Quotes from Sanctuaries of Childhood by Shea Darian used by permission. Copyright 2011 by Charlene DeShea Bagbey Darian. Revised 2nd Edition.”

Letting go of ‘Self-Care’

img_4399The importance of ‘Self-Care’ seems to be popping up everywhere lately. Proponents offer Mothers advice to make time to meditate, spend time alone in nature, walk, journal, exercise, practice yoga or deep breathing, dance, paint or craft. And this is all wonderful.

The ultimate purpose of daily self-care, I believe, is to connect your True Self with the Divine*. It is only there that you will find an eternal source of love, strength and energy to draw from.

On the best of days my own personal ‘self-care’ routine includes a morning meditation and prayer, some form of artistic expression and a hot epsom salt bath at the end of the day.

But here is the truth: I have four young children that we are homeschooling full-time, a growing business and a brand new homestead to run. My days are full and more often than not my self-care routine just doesn’t make the cut. And I don’t want ‘self-care’ to become another thing I feel guilty I didn’t accomplish today.

As I wiped the floor on hands and knees after dinner the other night, a calming reminder came to me: “This, more than any other daily act, is my meditation practice”. And I wasn’t just referring to the floors- the neverending loads of laundry, the constant dishes, the beds, the meals… Every household duty, big and small performed with mindfulness is a living and breathing meditation for me. Because instead of focusing on what needs to get done and anticipating the next thing to check off the to do list, when I remain present, I can feel into the bigger picture, and in turn I develop a larger sense of wonder and gratitude.

In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh states,

“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.” 

Chores can be performed as reverent gestures of faith, prayer and gratitude:

I am grateful for the roof over my head and the floor at my feet and for this sacred home I have always dreamed of. I am grateful for the bountiful meal that just filled and nourished my children’s bellies and the soap and water to clean up afterwards. I am grateful for the courage and resources I have in order to make the choice to stay at home with my young children and feed them each day. I am grateful for the strength and time I have to cook each meal from scratch, carefully choosing each ingredient. I am grateful for the bed that will so kindly welcome my tired body tonight.


IIf [a child] sees that everyone who stands in some kind of relationship to him […] shows gratitude for what he receives from this world; […] then a great deal is done towards establishing in him the right moral human attitude.”

~ Rudolf Steiner


In every moment at home with young children I am mindful that there is  so much to be grateful for.

I’m letting go of ‘Self-Care’ because this joyful, busy mess is my daily meditation practice. Not yoga or long walks on the beach or listening to guided relaxations, but changing diapers, packing lunches and wiping the floor.

My home is my temple.
My work is my worship.
At this stage in my mothering journey, I nourish my spirit and soul with mindful presence and gratitude.

And it is more than enough.

*You can replace ‘Divine’ with whatever word you choose, Higher Power, God, Mother Earth, The Universe etc.

Book Club: Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter One

Today I will be summarizing and discussing the first chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary every… read more