Outcomes Offered

■ Skills in discrimination

■ Reality testing

■ Personal growth through learning

■ Management of fear

A timid white, fluffy rabbit once lived by the shore of a sparkling blue lake. Would you like to give the rabbit a name? Or shall we just call it the little white fluffy rabbit?

For as long as it could remember, the little white fluffy rabbit had felt scared and timid, and although the little white fluffy rabbit didn't enjoy feeling that way it knew that feeling scared and timid could sometimes be a very helpful thing—especially if you are a little white fluffy rabbit. If the little rabbit heard a sudden, loud noise, he would feel scared, run like fury, and dive into the safety of his burrow. If a sudden dark shadow fell over him, he would feel scared, run like fury, and dive into the safety of his burrow.

One day as he was quietly drinking beside the lake there was a loud splash that sounded like Keeer-plunk! The little white fluffy rabbit felt scared and ran like fury, but in his panic he forgot where his burrow was and so just kept running. "Help!" he cried, to warn others. "Run! I heard a loud Keeer-plunk. It's after us."

A monkey saw the little white fluffy rabbit running beneath its tree and heard it cry out in fear. Dreading that something dangerous was about the happen, the monkey leapt from the tree and followed the little rabbit, joining in his cry: "Help, help! Keeer-plunk. It's coming after us."

A deer stopped grazing as the terrified pair ran past. The deer, too, took flight, crying out, "Run, run for your life! Keeer-plunk is coming after us."

They fled past a hippopotamus wallowing in the mud at the side of the river, a giraffe grazing from the tender leaves of a treetop, a rhinoceros foraging through the undergrowth, and an elephant showering itself with water from its trunk. All joined the frightened stampede. All joined the terrified chorus of screams: "Help, help! A Keeer-plunk is chasing us."

The stampede and shouts awakened a lion who was sunbathing on a warm rock. "Stop!" roared the king of beasts. All the animals ground to an instant standstill, more frightened of the lion than of the Keeer-plunk. "What's all this noise about?" asked the lion, hoping to bring some order and peace back to his jungle.

"A mean and horrible Keeer-plunk is chasing us," said the elephant. "The rhinoceros told me as everyone went charging by."

"Yes," confirmed the rhinoceros. "The tall-necked giraffe told me as it fled with all the other animals."

"I heard it from the hippopotamus," said the giraffe. "It must be serious for a hippopotamus to leave his mudhole and run."

"When I saw the deer running," said the hippopotamus, "I knew something had to be terribly wrong. Deer only flee when there is serious trouble, so I ran like she was."

"It was the monkey who told me," said the deer, looking back over her shoulder to the monkey. "He called out that Keeer-plunk was after us and we had to flee, in a hurry."

"Yes," said the monkey, "I just followed the little white fluffy rabbit. He was the one who warned me. He was running and screaming in such terror."

"Well?" asked the lion thoughtfully as he directed his gaze toward the little white fluffy rabbit, "where is it? Where is this Keeer-plunk? I can't see anything. There doesn't appear to be anything chasing any of you."

"It's there," said the little white fluffy rabbit, pointing behind him and turning to see nothing but an empty trail. "I did hear it," he tried to say reassuringly, but did not quite feel reassured himself. "It frightened me. It truly did."

"Where did you hear it?" asked the lion, kindly.

"Back by the lake," answered the little white fluffy rabbit. And with that the lion began to lead the animals back along their tracks. They looked and searched every step of the trail along which they had come but found no sign of a Keeer-plunk. In fact, they found nothing unusual at all.

When they got to the sparkling blue lake where the little white fluffy rabbit had been quietly drinking before the Keeer-plunk had scared him into running so fearfully, everything was still and quiet. The monkey, the deer, the hippopotamus, the giraffe, the rhinoceros, the elephant, and the lion all gazed around but there was no sign of any Keeer-plunk. Then, just as they were about to leave, a stone rolled down a cliff on the other side of the lake. It bounced out in the air, falling into the lake with a loud Keeer-plunk.

"There it is!" the little white fluffy rabbit shouted out, gathering his back legs under him, ready to run again.

"Wait," called the lion amidst a roar of laughter. The little white fluffy rabbit felt embarrassed when he learned what had caused the Keeer-plunk. The other animals felt ashamed that they had just believed what they had been told and not checked it out for themselves.

The kindly lion, however, sat on a rock near the water's edge and explained there was no need to be ashamed. "Fear," he began, "is something all animals and people experience for a very good reason. Look at the little white fluffy rabbit, for example. It doesn't have many ways of protecting itself from some of the big, dangerous creatures that might want to hurt it, or even eat it. Little rabbits do not have sharp teeth or long claws or big bodies. So, if the Keeer-plunk had existed it might have been dangerous, and it was wise of the little white fluffy rabbit to run and warn others. But sometimes," continued the lion, "we get frightened by things we imagine, things we do not need to fear, or things that do not even exist. We need to learn to tell what we really need to be scared of and what we do not. If we find ourselves hearing a Keeer-plunk like the little white fluffy rabbit, it might be helpful to stop and ask, 'Is this something I need to be afraid of?' If it is, then it is important to protect yourself. If not, there is no need to fear."

The little white fluffy rabbit learned to quietly sip water from the sparkling blue lake even when there was an occasional Keeer-plunk. In fact, the Keeer-plunk brought a smile to his little white fluffy rabbit's mouth because it reminded him of something important he had learned.

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