Copyright © 2015 by Alan Johnstone and Ierma Burger.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Visit my blog at: www.sstonecorp.co.za
Table of Contents
About the audio file
Theory: Helping children cope with parental conflict
Benny the lion learns it’s not his fault.
*Ierma Burger *
I met Alan about two years before this book was conceptualized. Alan helped me through my own life issues.
I always had a passion for children and through our work together it became clear that I wanted to help children that also had issues to work through. To help me to fulfill my inner drive to help children, Alan suggested that I write children stories with him as mentor. When children learn positive perceptions and obtain the skills to handle issues, at a young age, they have it much easier handling issues later in life.
*Alan Johnstone *
Much has been said about emotional quotient (EQ) and most parents have come to realise how important it is to recognise the need to assist their child’s emotional development. It is simply not enough to trust our natural parenting instincts.
How do you develop the EQ of a young child or toddler? Children learn through stories and easily associate with the characters in stories. This natural tendency provides a parent a wonderful opportunity to guide his or her child’s behaviour and feelings and teach them understandings with which to improve their EQ.
In these books different problem behaviours are used to depict techniques and skills that children can use to help themselves change their behaviour and feelings. The stories in these books have been developed to help a child help him or herself. Along with the stories are technical notes that assist parents and educators with a deeper understanding of the technical aspects behind this type of story telling. This has been done so that the parents may tell stories of their own making to help their children with their own unique set of problems.
I suggest that a parent reads the stories to the child a few times before allowing the child to make use of the Cd. The Cd can be seen as a tool that will help the child, consciously, and subconsciously absorb the lessons within the stories. You may find that you child comes to deeply love the stories!
These books and audios are not only meant for children who have developed the problem behaviours depicted but are also meant to give all children new skills and understandings.
This work augments a skills workshop which gives parents and educators the skills they need to help their children.
Professionally recorded story for you child:
For your child to benefit from this work it is important that your child can listen to it repeatedly. You may want to read it often, over and over, but this may become laborious. Therefore I have made a recording of the story for your child.
This helps your child to subconsciously learn through repetition. It is an easy way for a child to learn, especially when it’s fun. Also it saves you from having to read this bedtime story every night yourself. I suggest you read it perhaps once to your child and then play the audio in the future, when your child goes to bed.
If you are aiming to learn to tell therapeutic stories of this nature, the audio file will assist you in recognising where emphasis, pausing and changes in tonality are used to highlight suggestion to the child’s subconscious mind.
The audio file is available here:
Click on the link below to find out how.
Normally, in a crisis situation, parents will instinctively protect their children. During the breakdown of a parental relationship however the parents often become preoccupied with their own pain and confusion. When the relationship between parents breaks down it will impact their children.
This is especially the case during separation and divorce. Young children have a limited ability to understand when parental relationships break down and will often believe themselves to be the cause of it.
Conflict between parents is a most serious stressor for any young child. While the parents are in the grips of their relationship breakdown they spend less time with their children and are less sensitive to their children’s needs.
The conflict between the parents, whether it is overt or covert, impacts the child. Even although young children work at becoming individuals and having autonomy, they are still very dependant upon their parents. Children become used to the patterns of attention they receive from their parents.
When these patterns are interrupted children become stressed. This stress often leads to neediness, loneliness, anger, bad dreams and even the loss of acquired skills such as toilet training, sleeping patterns, social relationships, motor skills or eating behaviours.
This story has been developed to help a child understand that parental conflict is not his or her fault. The story also urges the child to open communication with his or her parents about the discomfort he or she is experiencing. Parents should therefore pay attention when the child communicates after listening to this story and aid him or her in any manner possible to relieve his or her stress. The lesson in this story is “sandwiched” in the middle of the story. This is done to keep the child entertained while listening, and then to leave the child in a positive state of mind. The techniques highlighted in the previous stories are still being used in this story but no technical notes have been added for them due to lack of space.
– Alan Johnstone
The little animals are all sitting together in the shade of the big old tree. “Wow! It’s hot today!” said Timmy the kitten. “I thought we would be able to run races or play hop hop with Bonny the bunny but we can’t do that because it’s too hot!”
“It’s even too hot to play in the tree house!” said Corry the monkey. “Just climbing up there in the sun will be very hard!”
“Let’s go swim in the river!” said Corry’s sister Suzy, “The water is very cold and that will cool us down!” “Yay! T..t..that’s a great idea!” said Willy the timid mouse.
The little animals jump up with excitement and run down to the river. Corry is the first and jumps into the water with a big splash. Then Suzy jumps in with a splash. Bonny and Timmy are next, splash, splash!
Then it’s little Willy the mouse’s turn. He runs as fast as his little legs will carry him, jumps high into the air and comes down into the water with a huge splash!
The little animals can’t believe it. “How did you make such a big splash Willy? You are the smallest of us all!” asked Corry.
“Well C.. C..Corry I really don’t know. I g..g..guess I just practice a lot. We are all g…g..good at something you know.” “That’s very true Willy the timid mouse, each of us have special things we can do. Isn’t it fun when you find something you are good at?” The little animals all agree. (The idea of “special talents”[_ is mentioned here to allow the child to focus on his or her individuality. This is done to promote his or her autonomy because he or she may be experiencing a feeling of being lost due to the parental conflict.) _]
The water is so nice and cool but there are no trees at the river and no shade. “Oh! Oh!” says Corry. “We can’t swim for too long because there is no shade and the sun will burn us.
We are nice and cool now so let’s think of what we are going to do next.” “I have an idea!” said Timmy the kitten, “Let’s go and play hide and seek in the jungle!
There are lots of trees and lots of shade there and it’s nice and cool!” “That’s a great idea Timmy!” they all agree together.
The little animals sit in the cool shade under the trees in the jungle. Corry is explaining the rules of the game to the little animals. Rules make games so much more fun. (The idea of “rules”[_ is offered to provide the child with the safety of boundaries. Even although children will test the boundaries that parents set for them, boundaries allow a child the safety of structure. Children require structure to feel safe. When a child is not provided boundaries they can subconsciously interpret it as a lack of care leaving them feeling insecure. This insecurity often leads to confusion or anger. A child may not consciously like the boundaries that the parent sets, yet the boundaries set by the parent allows the child a structure within which to feel safe.) _]
“Ok. First…” said Corry. “You can’t go too far and if we find you then you must help us find the others.”
Corry is just about to give the next rule when they hear a strange sound. Boohoo…oooooooo….oooooooo!”
The animals become very quiet. Their ears are pointed up and pointed to where the sound came from.
“W..w..what was that!” whispered Willy the timid mouse. “Is it a m..m..monster?”
“Shhh Willy!” said Suzy, “There’s no such thing as monsters!” Then the little animals listened. “Boohoo…oooooooo….oooooooo!”
“There it is again!” whispered Willy, “I am s..s..scared!” “Shhh Willy!” said Corry, “It’s coming from behind that big rock,” as he began to slowly creep toward the sound. The other little animals quietly creep behind Corry around the big rock. (Tension is developed at this point in the story to focus the child’s attention. Also by leading the child’s emotions you involve him or her in the story. This therefore helps the child to associate with the character.)
They peep through the leaves of the bushes at what’s making the sound and they are amazed! It’s a little lion! And he is crying! No one had ever heard a lion cry before! “Boohoo…oooooooo….oooooooo!” It sounds so sad!
“What could be wrong?” the little animals wonder. Corry slowly moves out of the bush.
“Hello little lion,” said Corry, “Are you OK? Did you hurt yourself? Can we help you? The little lion slowly looked up with his sad eyes. The beautiful fur on his face wet with tears. (The fearful tension is now relieved by feelings of empathy and compassion. Where the child was feeling the “fearful”[_ state developed by the story the child will now replace that with empathy and compassion which he or she will relate to him or herself. This is done to provide the opportunity to the child to “][_self soothe”][_ or in other words to make him or herself feel better.)_]
“Who are you?” he asked. “I am Corry the monkey and this is my sister Suzy, that is Timmy the kitten and Bonny the bunny and that is Willy the mouse.” Corry explained as the little animals came out one by one.
“I am Benny the lion and I didn’t hurt myself. “ Said the little lion. “I think I did a bad thing and I don’t know how to fix it.” (Differentiating between physical and emotional pain. This concept facilitates an emotional learning for the childlike subconscious mind.)
“What did you d..d..do?” asked Willy the mouse. “I don’t know for sure but my mommy and daddy are fighting a lot and they don’t pick me up or play with me anymore.” [_(Assisting the child to recognise what is causing his or her emotional pain.) _]
“Really?” asked Bonny. “Yes,” said the little lion, “and often when I want to be with my mommy or daddy they say they are busy talking and I must go and play in my room or go and play outside.” said Benny. (Describing the problem state.)
“Sometimes it makes me feel scared, sometimes it makes me feel angry and sometimes I feel lonely.” (Describing the result of problem state. If the child is experiencing this state he or she will associate him or herself to the character in the story. This sets him or her up to utilise the solution provided later in the story.)
“H..h..have you got any friends?” asked Willy. “No Willy I don’t, I am all alone. I want to be by my mommy and daddy all the time (Affirming the child’s growing need for attention due to the lack of it.) and I’ve started to wet my bed again. It’s hard to go to sleep at night and I also forgot how to tie my shoe laces and even started to suck my thumb again.” Benny the lion tells the little animals about all the things that have gone wrong since his mommy and daddy have been fighting. (Describing various negative consequences (regression of learned capabilities) due to the lack of parental attention or as a result of parental conflict. This further helps the child to associate him or herself to the character, which in turn, also sets him or her up to accept the solution offered later in the story.)
They feel so sorry for him. To see such a beautiful little lion cry makes them all so sad. (Offering the child the opportunity again to feel empathy and compassion for him or herself as to provide an opportunity to self sooth.)
Then Corry said, “Benny you didn’t do anything that could make your mommy and daddy fight. Mommies and Daddies fight about their own problems then they sometimes forget about us little ones. Usually mommies and daddies protect us but when they have problems they can forget to protect us because they need to fix their own problems. I promise you your mommy and daddy love you very, very much. When they have fixed their problem things will be better.” (This statement is made to provide the child with the emotional insight and understanding required to get past the problem state of “I am to blame for something”. It is offered as a direct suggestion in this story due to the age group for which this story has been developed. For older children it would be more beneficial to allow the child’s subconscious mind the understanding by the use of metaphor.)
Then Bonny the bunny said, “My mommy and daddy became bad friends.” (“Bad friends”[_ constitutes a serious condition in the mind of the child. Yet it doesn’t even remotely compare to the magnitude of suffering the child will experience if the parents were to “][_divorce”][_. Divorce is not dealt with in this story simply because it would be unwise to pre-empt such a discomfort.) _]
“They fought a lot and I also thought I did something wrong. (Offering the child an opportunity to associate.) _]My sister also thought she did something wrong, [_(Again offering the child an opportunity to associate.) but we didn’t. They had their own problems.”
“So what did you do?” asked Benny the lion. Then Bonny said, “I went and told my mommy and daddy how I was feeling. I first went to my mommy and said, “Mommy I am feeling scared and lonely and sometimes angry. I feel like I’ve done something wrong when you and daddy fight and its making me feel very bad.”
Then I went to my daddy and said, “Daddy I am feeling scared and lonely and sometimes angry. I feel like I did something wrong when you and mommy fight and its making me feel very bad.” (This then provides the solution to the child’s distress: Communicating his or her feelings and problem states to his or her parents. Parents please note: It is crucial that you remain vigilant so that when your child approaches you in this manner that you do the right thing. Here is your opportunity to set right the wrongs by offering your child comfort and acceptance. If you miss this opportunity you will have failed yourself and your child. Your child may recite the words offered in this story word for word or he or she may adapt it to his or her own situation. Irrespective, it is vital that you and your partner respond correctly.)
“Did it help?” asked Benny. “Well,” said Bonny, “It made me feel better because I could tell them what was wrong. (Providing a suggestion toward autonomy. Suggesting that just telling the parents of the problem states improves the situation for the child. This is in line with the child’s development toward autonomy and also provides a safety net if the child does not get the reassurance that he or she so desperately needs from his or her parents.)
My mommy and daddy said it wasn’t my fault and that parents sometimes have problems of their own. (Again setting up the solution to the problem state.)
Then Benny said “Tonight I will tell my mommy and daddy how I am feeling. I will tell them my problems and I will ask them to love me. I will say, “Mommy I am small and I am scared because you and daddy are fighting. Please stop fighting and love me instead.” (Leading the child to the provided solution to the problem state.)
“That’s a good idea Benny!” said Corry. “Just remember to talk to them when they are not fighting or else they might not hear you.” (Providing another safety net in case the parents don’t respond correctly to the child’s communication.)
“Ok Corry,” said Benny “That’s a good idea! I will tell mommy that I forgot how to tie my shoelaces and that I suck my thumb because I am scared too and that I wet my bed again.” (Again assisting the child in communicating the problem state.)
Then Timmy said, “Benny if you want we can be your friends! Corry knows a good way how to help someone stop sucking his thumb! Bonny knows a good way how to help someone fall asleep and I can help you keep your bed dry!” Benny looked at the little animals standing in front of him.
“Will you please be my friends?” Benny asked them. “Yes Benny we will!” they all said. “And we will also help you to feel better because that’s what friends do!” “Come play hide and seek with us!!” (Again offering compassion and empathy and leading the story away from the “heaviness”[_ of the lesson back into playfulness.)_]
“Ok thanks guys!” said Benny, Corry begins to explain the rules of the game to the little animals. Rules make games much more fun. (Reiterating the idea of safe within structure. The parent can now offer rules that will be accepted by the child with regard to the problem state. For instance: “You now know that even mommies and daddies have their own problems, and when they do it’s very important that they can fix them quickly. We love you very much and you are most important to us. We will love you and care for you and we ask that you give us this time to fix our own problem. Is it ok if we talk and you have some fun with your…[_ )_]
“Ok. First…” said Corry. “You can’t go too far and if we find you then you must help us find the others. Benny, Timmy, Bonny and Willy you go and hide away while Suzy and I wait. Then we will come and try to find you.” The little animals jump up and down with excitement and then run into the jungle in different directions to find a place to hide!
Corry and Suzy wait to give the little animals time to hide. Benny runs to where the sun is shining on some yellow grass and goes and sits right in the middle of it and then lies down. The golden yellow of his body and face is the same colour as the grass! Benny sits very still and if he doesn’t move it is very hard to see him.
Timmy runs up a tree and hides in some dark shade under the low leaves he is small and his fur is black. In the dark shade of the leaves he is very difficult to see.
Bonny the bunny has sharp little claws on her feet. She can dig easily into the soft ground. She digs and digs and digs until she makes a hole for herself to hide in.
Timmy the mouse is so small he can hide anywhere. He climbs up a tree. There is a hole in the trunk of the tree which he hides in.
Corry and Suzy begin to look for the little animals. Finding them is so much fun! “Where could they be Corry?” asks Suzy. “Lets climb into the trees. We can climb high up and look if we can see where they are hiding.”
“That’s a good idea Suzy lets go!” Corry and Suzy begin to climb the tree. Up and up and up they go. Then Suzy stops. “Corry can you smell that?”
Corry puts his little nose into the air and starts to smell. “Suzy I can smell fish!” “And who likes fish for breakfast Corry?” asks Suzy. “Timmy does so he must be close!” Timmy is sitting on the branch right next to Suzy and Corry but they can’t see him in the shade. “They can’t see me but they can smell me.” Timmy thinks, “If I hold my breath until they are gone they won’t know where I am!” Timmy holds his breath while Suzy and Corry sniff and sniff the air.
Timmy can feel he has to breathe soon but Corry and Suzy haven’t left yet, they are still sniffing. Eventually Timmy can’t hold his breath anymore and with a whoosh he lets his breath out and takes a deep breath in.
“There you are Timmy! We can see you now!” said Corry and Suzy. “You hid very well!” Timmy smiles as he comes out to help them find the others. Timmy, Suzy and Corry sit in the tree and look down to see if they can see the others. They can see where the sun is shining on the yellow grass but they don’t see Benny there. He is lying very still.
They keep looking and eventually Timmy’s see a funny thing hanging out of a hole in a tree. “What is that hanging out of the hole in the tree?” asked Timmy. Corry and Suzy look and then Suzy begins to laugh and she laughs and she laughs.
“What are you laughing about Suzy?” asked Corry.
“Corry look!” said Suzy, “That’s Willy’s tail! He hid in the hole but forgot to pull his tail in!” Corry and Timmy begin to laugh too! They laugh and they laugh and they laugh. While they are laughing Bonny begins to wonder what they are laughing about so she puts her head out of the hole in the ground to look. “There is Bonny too!” Timmy point to where Bonny is.
Now all the animals are laughing together. Its so funny! They have found everyone except Benny the lion. They look and they look and they look but they can’t find him anywhere.
Eventually they are tired of looking for him. They go and sit by a patch of yellow grass where the sun is shining.
Then Corry said “Benny, you win! We can’t find you! You can come out now!” Then Benny sat up, right next to them and they got such a fright!
“Wow Benny! You are really good at hiding!” they all said and Benny felt really proud. “Thanks guys!” said Benny, “You know we are all good at something special!” (Reiterating autonomy. At the end of the day your child may be able to overcome the discomforts of parental conflict if he or she is able to recognise him or herself as an individual. This is not an ideal situation for a young child but again is offered as a “safety net.”[_)_]
And when Benny walked away the friends could see he was already feeling much, much better.
This story is the fifth in a set of books that offer skills to parents with young children. Audio files of these stories are available for download so that your child can listen to the story enough to internalise the concepts offered. Please check my blog for more details or if you wish to contact me.
Click on the link below to find out how.
[*These ebooks are available: *]
(A book that offers advanced communication skills with regard to getting children to obey and comply in a positive manner. The four stories in this series of books are examples where the skills in this book have been used.)
. (Helping children overcome thumb sucking.)
. (Helping children overcome bed wetting.)
. (Teaches children a technique to enjoy falling asleep.)
. (Helps children cope when parents are in conflict.)
Benny the lion is crying because he thinks he has done something wrong. His mommy and daddy are fighting and they don't play with him as much anymore. This story helps children to understand that they are not to blame when their parents are in conflict and offers parents who have fallen into this trap a chance to rectify the problem. Children learn through stories and easily associate with the characters in stories. This natural tendency provides a parent a wonderful opportunity to guide his or her child’s behaviour and feelings and teach them understandings with which to improve their EQ. In the ebook, notes are provided which teach parents, educators and play therapists the valuable skills.