Managing Lifes Challenging Times

If it is true that bad things can happen to good people, then really rotten things can happen to undeserving children at times. When they do happen, they may be unexpected and the child may be ill equipped to cope, not having faced that experience before nor having developed the necessary skills to manage. Put a child in a situation for which he or she does not have the skills and there is a high probability that the child will experience inappropriate patterns of thinking, emoting, and behaving that could be maintained into adult life. How, then, do you help prepare a child for these events? In the words of the old adage, prevention is better than cure. Providing children with met-aphoric stories about coping—before a particular life challenge occurs—offers the skills to help when that situation does arise. At the time of crisis, it may take several stories over several weeks to help a child work through the various stages of grief, or process the diagnosis of a major illness, the stages of treatment, and the management of the prognosis.

The stories in this chapter examine how to manage challenges such as pain, illness, and major setbacks. They look at dealing with unrealistic parental expectations, changes in life's circumstances, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse. They are certainly not inclusive of the challenges a child may experience, but illustrate how metaphors serve both a preventative and a management function.

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