Improvisational Storytelling Secrets:
How you can stop a child's crying in 30 seconds!

(And, how to make grownups feel better,too!)

How many times has someone tried to cheer you up -- only to make you feel worse? Has anyone said things to you like, "It will be okay! Cheer up! Don't worry about it! Look on the bright side!"

Often, the more someone tries to make you feel better, the more your get stuck in your own negativity.

For several years, I've volunteered at the Pike Place Market Preschool. It's a great place. They really love the kids and the kids are wonderful. 70% of them are from families that need financial assistance. (About half are at or below the poverty level.)  

I make up stories with the kids, or read to them, or just play games with them. It's always been a wonderful way to keep grounded in what really matters in the world.

Here's the thing: kids cry a LOT. 
They cry over one of 3 things:

  • They have an ouchy!
  • Someone stole their toy!
  • They miss their mommy and daddy!

That's it! It all boils down to one of those.

Now, I've discovered a way to stop a child's even most intense tears, 97% of the time. It's very simple, I'll give you an example from the other day. Here's how it works:

A little 4-year-old boy was sobbing on the couch because he wanted snack and it wasn't snack time. (A version of someone stole his toy.)

I walked over, sat down by him. I agreed that it was horrible. I said he had every right to be upset. I said, "I remember a time when I was your age and I felt the same way. What happened was..."

I then began improvising a story. It involved giraffes, zebras, monkeys, lions, talking apples, and all sorts of other crazy adventures. I don't remember what all.

Now, here's an important part: he kept crying as I began my story. I ignored it and just kept talking. Gradually he started listening. During the first 45-seconds, he'd break back into loud sobs occasionally. I ignored it and kept on with my story. After that he became curious about the story and forget being upset.

I distracted him. I engaged his attention on a story.

I've used this exact strategy to stop kids at the preschool from crying dozens of times. It works almost all the time. (Yes, I know, nothing works 100%...)

Many well-meaning people cause additional pain by directing attention to it. They'll say, "You shouldn't be upset, you deserved what you got for hanging upside down!" "It wasn't your toy, you've no right to be upset!" "You're mommy will be here soon!" It doesn't work. It's not the time to try to teach a lesson, it's time to:

  • Agree.
  • Create curiosity.
  • Entertain.

But, what about adults?

It just so happens, later the same day, I talked with my girlfriend on the phone. She was having a bad day.

Now, I know that when an adult is having a bad day, it's because of one of three things:

  • They have an ouchy!
  • Someone stole their toy!
  • They miss their mommy and daddy!

I listened to her. I agreed that it was natural to feel that way. I said that earlier in the day one of the kids at the school had felt sad, too. I then described the story I told to him. I described the elephants, zebras, hippos and all the zany things that happened in the story.

She said it was an exciting story. She laughed and said, "I'm glad it cheered him up! It's a very wild story!"

She felt much better after that.

If I had tried to give her advice, it would have made her feel worse. But, a story brought her into a different frame of mind.

If your child/adult friend is having a bad day... if they have an ouchy... agree that it's natural to feel that way. Then, go into an entertaining story that will make them feel better. It's a simple technique, but it's highly effective and makes the world a better place!

If you wish to donate to a good cause, you can go here and help the sweet children of the Pike Place Market Preschool.

If you want to unleash your ability to be a captivating storyteller, sign up for the Become a Captivating Storyteller Masterclass!

The Captivating Storyteller Masterclass

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