Children use their imagination to play out their experiences and achieve mastery over the experience. This ability we carry with us into our adult lives as we think about past, present or future issues. As adults we continue to do this type of work in our mind by playing out various different scenarios. We think about the situation what was said or what we might say in the future and imagine what would happen or what the other person would say. The thinking about situations tends to trigger internal emotional responses to the past, present or future interaction.

This thinking might occur in connection to the fire. Adults and children get stuck in the thinking. It is like the brain’s ability to process the experience gets jammed up. We can’t seem to shift the thinking, resolve it or have a completion to the experience.

If you find yourself or your child stuck with certain thoughts about the fire here are a few possible interventions:
+ Hold the thought in your mind while taking a deep breath and imagine blowing the thought out
+ Notice how the thought comes into your brain – is it visual (picture, movie) or do you hear it in words (a nagging critical voice)
+ Where does the thought come from in your mind – is it top, bottom, sides (where do you sense it)
+ Engage another area of your body when the though comes in and notice what happens (straighten your spine, press your feet into the ground, push with both hands against a wall)

Researchers in the field (Peter Levine, Bessel Van Der Kolk, Pat Ogden, Janina Fisher, Daniel Siegel, and many more report the importance of engaging our entire body in change. By using another part of your body you can learn to interrupt the internal thinking process that gets jammed. The other key influence to change something is to practice it over and over and over to strengthen the new neural pathways in the brain.

For Children your can try the following suggestions:
> If you are comfortable with imaginary play, then play with the child…to provide distance perhaps select animals
> Develop a story line to allow some distance for the child…Once upon a time in a far away place there was a…
> The theme is that something was threatening the animals home
> You can play out the thoughts and emotions you think your child might have experienced….children will let you know if you are correct or not…they will clearly say no and then you ask them what was ….thinking, feeling
> Leave time for the child to answer and perhaps the hardest thing for parents….let your child lead and direct the story if they are able….this provides the child with a sense of power and mastery
> You might want to involve the child’s favourite animal in the play as an external resource for the child
> If the child is unable to develop the story and seems stuck you can introduce a wise character or helpful stranger
> If the child is not able to follow this intervention, do not push the child….acknowledge that at THIS TIME it does not feel like anyone or anything can help, but SOON it will. (This will assure the child that you respect their own processing time and let them know that this will change in the future.

Just a few suggestions to help you along the way…


We delight in the beauty
of the butterfly
but rarely admit the changes
it has gone through
to achieve that beauty.
~ Maya Angelou

You can learn more about
a person in one hour of play
than you can in
one year of
- Plato -