Here’s a simple, short video highlighting some parts of one of Sean’s fatherhood programs. Did you get our latest postcard (2015)? We’re setting new workshop dates now! Get in touch with us and let’s talk. Enjoy!
With the upcoming release of the “Snow White and the Huntsman”, movie, the issue of violence in fairytales comes up again. Are fairy-tales too violent for children?
In short, fairytales are not too violent for children when properly told to them in an emotionally safe environment by a trusted source who has the mental welfare of the child in mind. Snuggled in with Daddy telling stories is a great place to be safe. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
The deeper answer really comes in asking the right question. The correct question is: “Are fairytales in some movies too violent for children?” That answer is simple: Yes, movies that create violent images based on fairytales are too violent for young children.
It is often suggested to me that there is no difference between hearing a violent fairytale from a storyteller and seeing a violent movie made from the same fairytale. That’s simply wrong.
We need to remember that children do not hear and see traditional fairytales told by a storyteller (parent or professional) in the same way they see and hear a movie playing before them. In mentally processing fairytales, children only process the amount of violence their minds want to handle. A child hearing that the huntsman sets out to kill Snow White sees in their mind only what they want to see. For a small child, the permanence of death is unknown and unknowable. Nestled within the safety of the storytelling experience, they may know something “bad” could happen but they also know that they are safe. This safety along with their brief life experience creates the filter for children to understand the story at a level their minds find acceptable. They see what their minds want them to see.
The problem with fairytales and violence comes from children watching another person’s vision of that violence. Big-screen movie violence leaves no safety zone for the child to process the story. In a movie, the huntsman goes out to kill Snow White in non-filtered images and sounds of the violent looks and shouts, the sharp knife and a physical altercation.
A movie, for small children, is also an overwhelming experience of sight and sound, permanently preserved in its final form. In the movie theater, there is no place for the young child to escape the images and noise. Their fear-filter is overrun and no longer in control.
Conversely, a storyteller changes his or her story based on how the audience is reacting. For example, if I am telling a “scary” fairytale to a group of children, I will be watching my audience respond. If I see, from the children’s reactions, that some portion of the story is causing stress or fear, I will change the way I am telling the story. I will adjust the words, the pacing, the emotional non-verbal cues as I go along. True storytelling is created with the audience as it happens so it is never the same experience from audience to audience.
The role of violence in fairytales, when told to children, is to help them process fear. While we’d like our children to never be afraid or to experience violence, this is simply not a reality. With each hearing of some violence in a fairytale, the child’s unconscious controls the response as “I have had this fear before. I am safe here in this moment. I can survive this.” Each time, the child learns a bit more about how to grow up and how to deal with complex emotions.
Learning to conquer fear and to take actions is a human need. Without this overcoming, we would still be hiding in stone-age caves or extinct. When the storytelling audience is a bit older, perhaps in the early teenage or preteen years, they will usually ask for scary stories. Being scared, asking to be frightened, demonstrates their own growing mastery of fear. As well, this age group also enjoys the “justice,” no matter how warped that justice is to modern minds, that usually is delivered to evildoers in the fairytale.
Now, I am not advocating a free-wheeling give-young-children-all-the-fairytale-violence-you-want approach. As a caregiver, teacher or parent, you must judge the readiness level of the children in your care. While I believe that the scary portions of fairytales can actually be beneficial to growing children, there is a time and place for each child to embrace these stories. Use wisdom and caution in this process.
Fairytales help a child to learn the life-lesson, “I can get through this.” In many cases, the message is “We can get through this.” Isn’t that a good lesson for people of any age?
About the Author: Sean Buvala
Storyteller and author Sean Buvala has been a professional storyteller since 1986. Along with business coaching, he’s the author of the parenting resource, “DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important By Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time” which trains Dads to better communicate with their children via storytelling. Daddyteller is available at www.daddyteller.com
Finally! We’ve got the DaddyTeller book now on the Amazon.com Kindle format. You can learn more by visiting the Amazon site at this link now: http://www.daddyteller.com/kindle . Thanks for your patience as we reformated the book to match the Kindle platform.
Fatherhood: 7 Cheap or Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time with Your Little Kid
Yep, money is tight but that is not going to stop you from being a great dad. First off, since this isn’t 1950 any more, I don’t have to tell you how important it is for you to find time to spend being Dad with your kids and not at your kids, right? With that settled, here are some ways you can do several fun things with your kids that will cost you nothing or are otherwise very inexpensive.
1. Take a walk.
Go walking with your children around the block, around the park, around your back yard if you must. You will most likely need the exercise to get rid of your growing middle and your child needs to see something besides the TV or the back of your head while they ride in your car.
2. Go to the zoo (or something like that).
Get off the expensive and mind-numbing amusement-park daddy-go-round. There are affordable places (like museums and zoos) for you to go where your child can see new things, touch a turtle, make some pictures and hear a dinosaur’s roar or the like. This is a huge learning opportunity for your kid and most of these places are very affordable to visit. Super hint: many museums have monthly or weekly free-admission days. I know this will be hard for some dads who do not like to be in places like this. News flash: This is about your kids, not you and your boring man-world. With my kids now much older, I regret not having done more of this with them when they were little.
3. Eat in an interesting place.
Sure, the in-front-of-the-TV space has become the new kitchen table. Try having more meals at the dining room table. Then, get interesting and have a picnic. Make sandwiches, grab some chips and celery sticks and go sit somewhere to eat. The park or the tables outside the mall will work just fine. You are making memories here, dad. Warning: this is for your little kids. Do this outside the mall with pre-teens and you might die from the dirty looks they will give you.
4. Tell your kid a story. No books allowed.
Yep, put down that storybook and tell your kids some stories. Look your kid in the eye and tell them stories in your own way. You will bond with them and help them with their future literacy at the same time.
5. Do some full-body finger painting.
No little child can resist finger paint. On a warm day, grab some big pieces of paper, put out the cheap finger paints and go at the art-thing with your toddler. We found a roll of cheap paper at the teaching-supply shop and watched our kid paint up her body and roll about on the paper. Now we had huge art and great memories.
6. Wash your car.
Frankly, you could wash anything with rags and suds and your toddler or preschooler would be happy. Get out buckets, sponges, plenty of dish-soap and your grubby clothes and wash your car. Or a fence. Or your front door. Or your dog. Wet-laughing will ensue.
7. Make cookies.
In the old days, you had to know how to make cookie dough before you could bake cookies. If you know how to do make dough, that is all the better. Short of making dough, you can buy pre-made buckets of cookie dough at nearly any grocery store. Buy the dough and a few inexpensive candies or sprinkles and you have baking fun. When you are waiting out the baking times, do number 4 above.
There are many more ways to spend some inexpensive time with your kid. Your time shared with a child is more important than the money you spend in that time. Dive in now as they will be giant tweens before you know it. Then, you will need a new list.
The author, Sean Buvala, has four children ranging in age from preteen to adult. He especially likes number four in this list (storytelling) as he is the author of the fatherhood training book, “DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time.” You can get lots of free training videos and order the book at http://www.daddyteller.com. Or, follow his latest articles and vids from your perch at Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/daddyteller
Fathers – Finding Ways to Bond With Your Baby
By Sean Buvala
So, new dad, you want to know how you can bond with your new baby? That is great and it is the first step in your new life with your infant. Closeness and tenderness with your child is rewarding for your baby and you will discover how much being a caregiver does for you. Slow down, relax and enjoy the new son or daughter. Here are nine ways for dad to bond with the baby.
1. Take over some feedings. Do not let this powerful moment of bonding go by you. In infants, the focal-point of their eyes is about the distance from an adult’s chest to their face. Amazing how nature worked that out. Dads- grab the bottle (formula or breast milk) for these moments. When solid food comes along, grab the spoon and go at the feeding. Wear an old shirt if you are worried about the mess.
2. Be a part of baby care. Diaper changing makes some men cringe. Do not panic: it’s only poop and it washes off. If you have a messy baby to clean up, strip down yourself and jump into the shower or bath with them. All that skin time is good for you and the baby.
3. Take your baby on solo errands. Pack up the baby-bag, strap the kid into the car seat and go about your business to the store, the post office, the bank or wherever your daily tasks may be. Make “where are we going next” the adventure for even the youngest child. Remember- never leave your baby unattended in the car- even for a minute.
4. Learn about child development. You might be a dad that knows it all about raising kids. More than likely, you will benefit when you take some of that Internet-surfing time to check out the huge number of sites about parenting, fathering and raising kids. Watch videos and read articles.
5. Have some physical play with your baby. You are the ultimate monkey bars to the toddler child. Get on the floor and let the rambunctious activity start. Even your little baby makes a good and giggling resistance weight for arm-curls, squats and bench-pressing.
6. Strap the kid onto your body. A backpack on your back that lets your child see over your head or a front-facing baby holder gives your baby a much-needed new view on the world. Not only are you the child’s personal monkey-bars, but while wearing your baby, you are also a ladder with legs as your child sees the world from a new height.
7. Sing a song and tell stories with your baby. No one is going to judge you for being silly or not singing well. Your baby develops language skills by hearing and using language. Make up stories as you go along, you do not need a storybook. Create songs or sing the best-of-the-90’s from memory. You will be building your child’s future literacy success, too.
8. Take pictures. Tons of digital pictures are a gift you are making to your future self. Take loads of pictures and save them on a good hard drive. Go through those pictures and print out some of the best. Keep them on your desk at work or wherever you spend your working time. Switch out your photos on a regular basis.
9. Relax around your baby. While you do not want to take dangerous risks with your baby, you will find that you are going to be more competent than you might at first think. You are different from the child’s mother; you will parent in your own unique way. Don’t strive for being perfect. Rather make it a point to be present and involved with your child.
Most dads have some initial nervousness with their new baby. Why not make it a point to use some of these ideas with your baby soon?
The author, Sean Buvala, has four children ranging in age from preteen to adult. As well as presenting workshops and classes nationally since 1986, he is the author of “DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time.” Learn more about Sean’s fatherhood programs at http://www.fatherhoodprograms.net or follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/daddyteller
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Bedtime kids stories aren’t just about getting something done now with your child. Story is long-term care with your child, just like oil is long-term for your car. Learn more about this storytelling technique in the video below. Enjoy.
He was about 25 years old and had a four-year-old daughter. Young Dad’s question, asked to me in a low whisper, was a universal “Dad” question. Most Dads end up asking me this question in one of its many forms.
I had just finished a presentation for young college students who were studying to be teachers. We talked briefly about work in helping Dads to talk with their kids, to put the storybooks down, look their kids in the eye and tell stories.
In the session, most everyone else asked some type of question except Young Dad. When we were done and the group was leaving, Young Dad pulls me aside and says, “I have bought tons of books for my daughter and we read every night. And I already do some of the no-book storytelling. She loves it and will tell me some stories sometimes. But I still have this question in my mind, ‘What If I Do It Wrong?”
WIIDIW- the question dads always want to know. Men worry that if they don’t get it right something terrible and awful will happen. Or, they worried that they will be laughed at. He’s worried about being judged by his spouse. He’s worried that his kid will not like his storytelling because it’s not as energetic as what the child sees on TV. Alternatively, his own inner critic beats him up for every word stumble or verbal typo. WIIDIW looms in his brain and keeps him from doing the best with his kid. WIIDIW is the enemy of connecting cads to literacy.
So, if you are in a position in a school, Title 1 program or some other Early Childhood Education situation, here are a three tips to help Dads connect to literacy and get past the WIIDIW block.
1. Your program must have a clear, observable, measurable objective.
Do you want Dads to mentally check out of your program? If so, then advertise something ambiguous such as “Our program will discuss the research and history of literacy education and how it might effect the modern family.” Your program and outreach will do much better if you take a hint from marketers. “Our program on Wednesday will show Fathers three easy ways to help their kids get better grades in school – starting at bedtime that night.” You could try “Tonight’s Family Meeting program gives Dads three no-fail ways to be a hero in the eyes of their children.”
2. Your program must be fun for the participants.
Do you really want to reach men? I have sat in on my share of dry, lecturing, power-pointing family presentations given by poorly trained speakers. Yawn. The average guy wants a program that is not too heavy and lets him laugh off his nervousness. Be funny, genuine, succinct and focused if you want to talk to men about their families.
2. You must provided chances for Dads to succeed.
If you want dads to embrace your ideas, then give them ways to do some hands-on experience of storytelling stories and literacy. In my programs teaching dads my DaddyTeller process, fathers get to practice one story from my book. I tell (demonstrate) a short story, teach them to instantly learn the story and then practice telling it to each other in small groups. There will be lots of laughter and at times it will appear even a bit unfocused. But, after 30 minutes of this process, Dads have a story that they can then tell to their little ones that very evening. Give Dads success and immediate application. Just one “Daddy, I love that story you tell me about the mouse” will get him coming back to you for more help and information.
3. You must allow chances for Dads to ask questions privately.
For some men, information is power. They learned this skill back in their boyhood pack days. To ask you questions in front of a large group, tacitly admitting they don’t have information, can intimidate them. So, be sure you clearly state that questions can be answered afterwards- and then take the time to answer questions. Just like my experience I mentioned to you at the start of this article, you may have your own Young Dad lurking in your audience.
Men want to be good fathers and they want their kids to be successful readers, writers and problem solvers. Don’t give up on the fathers in your school, group or organization. Learning to speak to dads and breaking through the WIIDIW blocks will create new opportunities for promoting literacy in your community.
Great article and a great find over this blog. In an article at Greenough.com, they discuss the need to “unplug” sometimes. I wrote this in their comments section:
It’s been time for parents (especially dads) to unplug for some time. It’s amazing what a difference 15 minutes a day of focused attention can make in the lives of our children.
Unplugging is not only from electronics. We’ve become dependent on things to make us better parents. Toys, storybooks, parenting videos, baby training stuff and more have been adopted by parents, replacing the chance to develop our innate parenting skills.
For some time, I have been encouraging Dads especially to disconnect a bit, learn a new to tell from their hearts and mind and truly engage their children. If you want you kid to talk to you at 13, you need to start telling them stories at 3.
As well, we need to teach our children to disconnect. There is great value in our technology but more and more, as I work with teens, they can’t disconnect from their electronic pacifiers. For a while it was .mp3 players, now it’s telephones.
Three cheers for unplugging adults! Put down the phone, the blackberry and the story book. Look your kids in the eye, reach out and touch them and tell them your stories.