Goodbye House

I remember when we we're getting ready to move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. I'd gone on our weekly trip to the library and looked for books that talked about moving and found, "Goodbye House," by Frank Asch. It was an incredible book and just what I was looking for.

In the book the little boy bear goes through his empty house after everything has been packed up in the moving van.The parents reminisce about the memories they've created in each room.The little bear learns that not only do they get to take their memories with them, but the people in those memories (his mom and dad) are coming too. They go through the house and said, "Goodbye," to each room before leaving.

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My (then) four year old daughter ate this book up. She knew we we're moving further away from family and I was six months pregnant at the time. Her whole world was turning upside down. When she looked at the book, though, she knew at least a little bit of what to expect: Our things will go into boxes. A big truck will come. After everything is in the truck the house won't look the same. It will look empty. We can say goodbye to each room to make me feel better if I feel sad. We will drive to our new house and our things will go there. I could've told her all those things, but to see the little bear go through it in the book formed a more accurate visual for her.No doubt the author had this effect in mind when he wrote the book. Well done, Frank Asch.

Stories are a great way for kids to get a mental grip on what's coming up. I think we take for granted our vast repertoire of experience as adults. Before we moved with my daughter I'd moved before, too many times in fact.Five times in five years. Yup, friends and relatives pretty much dropped the phone and took off running when we started announcing that we we're moving yet again.I knew what to expect. Kids don't have those experiences yet. Everything is such a big unknown for them, and it helps them to know what it will look like .

When we got closer to Delaney's little brother being born we found books about a baby joining the family. When it was time to start preschool we found books on that. When she was going to be a flower girl in her uncle's wedding we found a book on that as well.

Using stories to ease kids' fears isn't limited to books. My son was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder at four. He suffered from intense over sensitivity to noise that left visible dark circles under his eyes when we we're out in public areas with lots of people. The grocery store was a nightmare. He clung to me desperately because internally he was melting down from over stimulation and felt like everyone was staring at him. As a result he never wanted to leave the house.

When he felt anxious about what was happening on a particular day because he didn't know what to expect I'd turn the day into a story the night before. We'd sit down with a piece of paper. "First, you'll wake up and eat breakfast (draw a picture of a cereal bowl). Then you'll get dressed (draw a shirt and pants). Then you can watch a show while mom and dad get ready (draw a t.v.). Then we'll get in the car (draw a car) and drive to Grammy's house (draw Grammy)." You get the idea. His anxiety,as well as the arguing that he didn't want to go, subsided. Internally his body was saying, "Ahhhh, that's my story for tomorrow, and it's not full of unfamiliar noise." Expectation is everything.

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Posted in Recreation and leisure Post Date 04/06/2021


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