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Therapeutic Storytelling – Using Stories to Light The Way

Therapeutic Storytelling – Using stories to light the way

One of my most enlightening resources I had as a young mum was a couple of self-published simple books by author Susan Perrow, filled with ‘Healing stories for children’. They transformed my early parenting and they will no doubt enjoy another innings when my grandchildren come along. 

Susan’s work has now been commercially published and she has four wonderful books  – ‘Healing stories for challenging behaviour, ‘An A-Z collection of behaviour tales, ‘Therapeutic storytelling and more recently ‘Stories to light the night’. The discussion of this blog is an exploration of Stories as medicine, to hopefully inspire your parenting and spark your curiosity around different ways to provide emotional space and awareness for the ever-changing landscape of family life. 

The simplicity of this notion to use stories to create affirmative shifts in challenging behaviour in our children, should not be underestimated. The gentle healing power is profound as each child navigates the words spoken and the images created in their own minds eye, to feel into relatable experiences where judgement is not present and change finds a gentle path. It is important to note that these stories are not developed as ‘cautionary tales’ imposing a moral value, the focus is to simply shine a light for awareness to grow. The stories are gentle and respectful and will affirm and surprise you as you witness the incredible capacity your child has to naturally unfold through the gentle support of a healing story. Susan Perrow calls it ‘Story Medicine – a creative strategy for parenting, teaching and counselling children’.

Stories as medicine is well suited for 3 – 9 year old’s, where children have the opportunity to connect and identify with the main character and can imagine how the ‘obstacle’ is overcome/reduced/resolved and the character is naturally empowered. Each story has the ability to heal, motivate, strengthen and transform behaviour, sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic and sometimes not at all obvious but the seed is sewn with somewhere to begin.

Story medicine is a far more pleasant and alternative method to ‘nagging and lecturing’ which only builds undesired tension and unproductive patterns in both child and parent. You have nothing to lose and much to gain by simply exploring the concept of Stories as Medicine. A concept that not only provides a positive approach to tackling ‘tricky’ issues at home but also creates more ‘together’ time sharing stories and the conversations and insight that might naturally follow.

Below is a simple story example from the book -‘An A-Z collection of behaviour tales’ by Susan Perrow.

Clanging Crashing Clock

Hickory dickory dock

The mouse ran up the clock.

The clock struck one, the mouse ran down

Hickory dickory dock.

A mouse once lived inside a tall wooden clock. Sometimes the clock would sing to her: Hickory dickory dock. When the mouse heard this, she would run up the clock and help the clock strike the time, then she would happily run back down again. The mouse was happy to have clock as a friend.

But one day, for no good reason, instead of singing to the mouse, the clock started to shout in a loud clanging way:


The mouse got such a fright that instead of running up to the top of the clock she ran away to another part of the house to hide. The clock didn’t know what to do and the clock missed its friend the mouse, and it missed not having someone to help it strike the time the way it should. So, the clock shouted even louder in a horrible clanging way:


But the mouse covered her ears and kept on hiding, so the clock shouted even louder in a horrible clanging way.


But the mouse kept on covering her ears and kept on hiding. By now the clock had used up all of its clock voice so it could only whisper very, very softly.

Hickory dickory dock

To the clock’s great surprise and delight, the mouse came out of hiding and ran right up to the top of the clock, helped the clock strike the time. Then ran back down again.

From this day onwards, the wooden clock always sang and spoke softly to its friend the mouse. And the mouse and the clock lived happily together for a very long time.

The healing story collections from Susan Perrow’s books cover a broad range of concerns and challenges that many children may experience at one time or another, including anxiety, stress, anger, fear, insecurity, dishonesty, fussiness, shyness, intolerance, teasing, bullying, boredom, jealousy, obstinance, separation anxiety, bedwetting, hitting and biting, grief and loss. You will definitely find a story to support your child when they are feeling ‘out of balance’.

Stories We Love