One of the best tools to help kids conquer their fears is to externalize it. We can do this by using well known bad guys from children's movies. Externalizing the problem is a Narrative Therapy technique that creates space between the child and their fear so that they no longer see themselves as the problem, rather it's the pesky bad guy that we can definitely learn to tame! It also gives kids an easy way to talk about their worries, and helps us adults really get how the child feels so we are in a better position to help.
One of the reasons externalizing with a bad guy works well is because usually there's a bit of a back story** to these characters that can eventually be used to create some understanding and perhaps even some acceptance and compassion for the bad guy, which can be a useful tool in helping a child develop empathy for themselves and others.
Recently, I had a young girl who discovered her anxiety was most like Randall from Monsters Inc. You might remember him as the sneaky, evil lizard that was able to camouflage himself and turn invisible, making his task of scaring kids to catch their screams quite easy! Randall had a habit of turning up in kids bedrooms as they slept. Unfortunately, Randall was also turning up at school, and even during favorite activities too, making the world a pretty scary place.
Once we had identified Randall, we could start questioning his motives...what was he trying to do? Ah, he was just doing his job! What if we told him he didn't need to do that anymore? Hmmm, maybe! Who else might be able to help us tame Randall?
Using art and story-telling, alongside the narrative and cognitive therapies, we were able to wrangle Randall so that he no longer skulked around causing havoc. We further supported the Randall Taming with a personalized essential oil blend that was applied whenever Randall tried to be boss again.
Getting creative is the key to Monster Taming!
** turns out Randall was just a shy, nervous young lizard that wanted to be liked. Like so many bad guys, he chose Protection over Connection (a topic to be covered soon!)