How to calm a tearful child by telling a story

Calm fisherman

Little boy ran into the house in a near hysteria announcing that his pet turtle had rolled over and died.

He was inconsolable. His mother called her husband and when daddy came home, he gathered up the tearful boy in his arms as he sat in front of the dead turtle and told him that maybe they could have a funeral for the turtle. Yes, and not only that, but daddy would bury him in the little tin box they kept the candy in.

By this time the boy had stopped crying and was listening intently.

"Then," chimed in the mother, "we can have a party afterwards. Wouldn't that be nice?" By this time the boy was smiling.

Encouraged, the father went on, "Yes, and we'll have balloons and some of your friends over, and everything." The boy was grinning from ear to ear.

But then, suddenly, to the surprise of them all, the turtle rolled back on his legs and began slowly moving away. The boy looked startled and then exclaimed, "Oh, daddy - let's kill it."

The story ends here, but what it teaches us is that stories do provide escape, taking us from our immediate worries and giving us a chance to regroup, reform and reenter life.

Parents, use the calming power of a story to calm a tearful child. By the time the story is ended he or she will have forgotten the hurt.

Reference: I read this story in William J. Bausch's Storytelling Imagination and Faith book.