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written by Kate Cook, 29th January 2018
One evening this week, whilst Doc McStuffins operated on a teddy with no stuffing, my 5-year-old daughter leant across my lap top dressed in her fairy wings and drew my gaze from the screen for enough time for me to realise that, fairy and Doc Mmcstuffins time is few and far between, and much more important than mummy’s homework!
As I laid my laptop to the side and placed my daughter on my knee, I thought I’d try out a conversation model that I'd been practicing for some of my counselling for children sessions based on the human givens model. The Spider Story was a recent model shared in this month’s edition of the human givens journal and it had received great praise.
I have a close relationship with my daughter, and have always considered myself to be approachable, calm and open with her, and vice versa. We take time to play and read together and have lots of important cuddle time daily. We discuss "the day" at the dinner table with the family, respecting each other’s time on "the floor" to share proud moments or air concerns. To date, she has always chosen something funny and positive.
I approached the conversation whilst drawing doodles with her, to enable some focus, she drew calmly with no interruptions (Doc McStuffins muted) and we ran through our story spider as follows:
1) What have you enjoyed?
2) What have you not enjoyed?
3) What have you done well?
4) What could you have done better?
5) Has there been anything on your mind?
6) Is there something you wish you could say to someone else?
7) What has made you laugh recently?
8) What are you looking forward to?
We talked at length through each answer after giving her an opportunity to tell me fully what came to her mind.
Each question relates to an aspect of recent lived experience, and put together, and asked in that order, they provide an opportunity to discuss the whole of a child’s recent experience of life. Both positive and negative, whilst creating openings to express opinions and reflect.
As the more introspective questions are situated in the centre, the final two questions can serve as a distraction from dwelling too much on problematic aspects of life and plant the suggestion that problems are temporary and solvable within the context of a life that has humour and things to feel optimistic about.
My daughters’ responses took me by surprise, she was able to share some feelings and incidents that were unpleasant to her, she had expressed when she had felt shy and when she had felt disappointed, and she was able to explain it in a way that enabled her to consider and reflect on her responses. Our conversation ended on her remembering a moment of great happiness, which made her laugh.
I started thinking that this was actually a great way for her to communicate her emotions to me. In a safe and positive way. The model draws on every part of the human givens basics. Utilizing your imagination, your observing self, your ability to know, to reflect, and the ability to build rapport. It has shown me the effectiveness even at a young age.
I have concluded that this is not just great for counselling, it’s also a great way to showcase our children what we all have within us to help us cope when life throws us challenges or confuses us. I will definitely be using the method outside of the therapy room too!
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