Emotional education through fairy tales

Does it make sense today tell fairy tales to children? To be able to answer, one should begin by asking oneself: what is the fairy tale that embelases children of all times? Why are the same arguments found in distant cultures, which have not had contact? Where does that magic that survives generations come from?

To understand what is the unique value that fairy tales convey we can ask ourselves what defines them, what they have different from the others. The "Once upon a time, in a distant country" refers us to a time that never happened in a place that never existed ... or rather to something that always happens, in all places? Why the characters have no name, but we refer to them by some superficial identification ("Little Red Riding Hood") or have a common name ("Hansel and Gretel" in Germany, at that time, is like saying " Juan and María ") which is as much as saying" boy and girl "? They are names that mean "anybody": those characters so indefinite allow us to represent the universal humanity, someone in whom we can project ourselves, someone also with whom we can succeed or suffer.

The imagined experiences are a very powerful source of learning, as neuroscience has shown in locating mirror neurons and neurons in reading, and as we know from the therapeutic effect of sleep and visualizations. When I connect with a story I can smell the forest, I can feel the darkness, notice how my legs run. What happens to the protagonist happens to me. Listening to stories, children are invited to respond to powerful ideas and emotions, very close to their experience but which they can hardly express. Also, the more familiar an experience I observe is, the greater its effect on me, as happens to dancers who watch others rehearse and serve as training. The story turns us into beings that we learn.

The symbolism of fairy tales

The fear of abandonment or abandonment felt by children in separation processes is difficult to verbalize, but the child will understand deeply how Hansel and Gretel feel in the middle of the forest. It is scary to be angry with one's parents, on whom one depends on all levels and especially on the affective, but it is licit to wish to defeat a stepmother or a giant. The hidden messages of the children's stories are simple and meaningful, and each one speaks according to what he needs. A child will see in Hansel that the only way out of a difficult situation is to get going, while another will see in Gretel that although it is the smallest sometimes it will be he who should take the chestnuts out of the fire.

The classic stories do not understand gender, all children identify with the protagonist, the good, the one who started, was witty, helped the weakest and thanks to that he got help, he overcame the difficulties, he was saved. And they will understand that the punishment of the wicked is loneliness and that only love makes life worthwhile, because the stories speak in a symbolic language that we all understand at an unconscious level.

Emotional education is present in fairy tales

As Robert Fisher says, "With stories we discover things about ourselves and the world and we also learn to change ourselves and the world." Listening to stories is a way of acquiring experience without living it: the imagination is nourished by what has been lived and imagined, by the readings that have been made. Stories, unlike life experiences, have a beginning and an end, and in them it is easy to observe the meaning of situations and the options that are taken. With stories we arrive to where reality can not reach.

The classic stories, refined by the passage from generation to generation, offer the scenario in which children can symbolize their fears and anxieties, which are the universal fears and anxieties, and rehearse solutions. Thus they learn lessons of wisdom, which have nothing to do with the morals of social moral codes as they can be reflected in fables, but it is a knowledge that depth and meaning to life, which helps to find our place in this world. Hidden messages, subliminal, in multiple layers. What does Little Red Riding Hood teach us? What do we not trust from strangers? Or rather that ingenuity is not going to save us and that the feeling of guilt serves no purpose, only action? How many messages does a single story hide? Fairy tales have a value that our children of the technological era should not miss.

At what age would we tell fairy tales?

Although each child will live the story at the level for which it is prepared, these are the types of stories that should not be missing in a child's life:

- From 0 to 2 years. Simple language, familiar themes (park, grandmother *).

- From 2 to 3 years. Include the child in the story. Use onomatopoeias and invented words. Humor.

- From 3 to 4 years. Repeated phrases, chained situations (La gallinita roja) Nature, animism (Pulguita y Piojito)

- From 4 to 5 years old. Magical and wonderful world, happy endings (The sleeping beauty) 6 to 7: Moral values ​​such as responsibility, diligence and courage (The old mother Frost)

- From 7 to 8 years old. Situations that are solved by cunning (Puss in Boots)

- From 8 to 9 years old. Heroic facts, biographies, legends (Ulysses)

Is it better to tell the story or read it, show pictures or not?

Imagine a father looking into the eyes of his son and telling him the Cinderella principle: how the stepmother has two beautiful but evil daughters. The connection between father and son is special, the father transmits the emotional charge of each scene, while he can see the interest in the child and the child is learning a way to communicate, and receiving all the attention of his father, which is the best food for self-worth.

Reading is more comfortable for the adult than counting the memory story, it requires less effort, concentration and communication. But also imagine the scene again, with this same father reading the original text of the brothers Andersen: "The second woman brought home two daughters, beautiful face and white complexion, but black and evil heart." The Beauty of composition and expressive force of the precise choice of words can not be replicated in an oral narrative.

The vocabulary is very important because the linguistic capacity allows us to understand the world: it increases the capacity of abstraction, of explanation and verbalization, and to be more aware of the mental processes. Refering to beauty of the text, introduces the child into the world of aesthetic and art pleasure. The value of reading is different from that of the narrative, but it is equally undeniable.

As for showing images, it also requires some reflection. The image itself has a lot of value: or it is the same to describe a cathedral to whom one has never seen one to see an image of it. The images broaden our vision of the world and therefore our creativity, can transmit emotions and communicative styles.

However, the images prevent the creation of a self-image, which is a fundamental exercise for the cognitive development, the more the smaller the child. And even this is not its biggest drawback, but used in the fairy tales they reduce its symbolic potential, making identification between the listener and the main character difficult, as well as the parallels with one's own life and experiences. That is why we will try to ensure that a child has had the opportunity to listen and internalize a story many times before showing it in pictures.

Elena Furnace Educational Innovation Consultant. Founder of Crianza Con Sentido and La Escuelita by Arturo Soria.

Video: emotionaleducationtales.com: "Little Celestial Fairy".mp4

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