A social story is a powerful tool to be used to help foster children understand typical reactions to UNUSUAL situations – like moving from one home and one set of parents to another. Changing homes multiple times in early childhood is not typical in the general population, but for those involved in foster care, it is far too common.
A genius friend of mine wrote a social story for my two-year-old, complete with photos and a simple story, to help with the transition. It was called PUMPKIN’S VERY SPECIAL FAMILY and ultimately helped us both with the transition and worked like a charm as it helped a young toddler understand on a deeper level what would happen when she moved.
Key points to keep in mind when writing a Social Story for Kids in Foster Care:
- Use words at the child’s level – a book for a 2-year-old should sound very different than one written for a 10-year-old
- Tell the child’s story from their perspective
- Give them feeling words (and let them know its okay to be happy AND sad, scared AND excited, especially around feelings about moving)
- Personalize it! Use your kid’s names, their parents names, photos of everyone you can.
- Use a story structure – a beginning, middle, and end.
- Remember the child is the star of the story, don’t embellish anyone else’s feelings (it may be very true that you will miss them terribly and their parents will smother them with love, but this story is kiddo focused – and they might have all kinds of different feelings.
She wrote another version, this time for my seven-year-old and four-year-old who are transitioning back in with their parents (yeah for reunification!!!). Here is their social story, along with a few modifications for confidentiality (names and specifics changed, but in the book, they LOVED seeing and hearing their own names).
Buddy’s story was written for a 7-year-old who loved superheroes, helping people and was so excited to move back in with his parents. When I read the story to him, he asked, “Why is everything so super in this book? Cause I like it.” Then he asked, “Can I really stomp my foot if I’m mad? Because sometimes I’ll miss you.” Spot on in helping him verbalize some of the mixed-up emotions present in reunification and adoption situations.
Once upon a time, there was a superhero named Super Buddy. Super Buddy does not have a cape, but he has something even better. He has strength and gentleness inside him that make him so special to those who love him!
Super Buddy has superpowers. He is a great big brother, helpful and kind. Lots of people love Super Buddy!
One day, Super Buddy and his little sister, Princess Bug move to a new place. A place they have never been before. They meet someone who loves them and takes care of them. Her name is Alisa.
Super Buddy goes to school, takes swimming lessons, and gets even better at using his superpowers of caring, helpfulness, and kindness.
Time goes by, and Super Buddy and Princess Bug spend time with Alisa and time with their parents, who loves them very much.
One day, the word comes from the galaxy that Super Buddy and Princess Bug are going to live with their parents again! Super Buddy has lots of feelings inside about moving.
When Super Buddy moves with Princess Bug, he is excited to live with his parents again, but he misses Alisa, too. When he misses Alisa, Super Buddy can send a letter in his magic mailbox. He can talk to people. He can stomp his foot if he is mad and he can cry if he is sad. When he is happy, he can remember that it is okay to smile and laugh.
Super Buddy can remember his superpowers of strength and gentleness. His strength inside helps him deal with hard things. Super Buddy’s gentleness helps him treat others with care, helpfulness, and kindness. These are the things that make Super Buddy so super.
Super Buddy can trust that Alisa is sending her love to him, even when they are apart. Super Buddy can know in his super heart that so many people love him. And he can believe that this love is more powerful than any superpower.
Bug’s story was written for a 4-year-old girly girl, pink-loving princess. She was also reunifying with her parents. She also loved her story, as well as the pictures of the pretty princess (clip art) I put on the front. She also really, really enjoyed the photos of her, Buddy, her parents and me throughout the book.
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there was the greatest princess in all the land. Her name is Princess Bug.
One day, Princess Bug and her big brother, Super Buddy, move to a new house with someone who will love and care for them. Her name is Alisa.
Princess Bug learns lots of things at Alisa’s house. She gets a special tutu and wings and a magic wand at Christmas time!
Princess Bug is so great. Now that she is four, she can do lots of great things. Her favorite thing to do is love others. She can also zip bags, write her name, snap her fingers, pour her juice, put on her seatbelt, put on her clothes, walk her baby to the park, brush her teeth and stay in bed!
Time goes by, and Princess Bug and Super Buddy spend time with Alisa and time with their Parents, who loves them very much.
One day, the word comes from the kingdom that Princess Bug and Super Buddy are going to live with their parents again! Princess Bug has lots of feelings inside about moving.
When Princess Bug moves with Super Buddy, she is excited to live with her parents again, but she misses Alisa, too. When she misses Alisa, Princess Bug can say, “I miss Alisa.” When she feels sad, she can cry. When she feels mad, she can stomp her foot. When she feels happy, she can laugh.
Sometimes, Princess Bug can dream happy dreams about Alisa and the fun times they had.
Princess Bug can know in her heart that Alisa will always love her, no matter what. And she can know that she is so special for all the great things she is inside: strong, smart, sweet and funny. Princess Bug is the greatest princess ever.
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I just read an article called, “Social Stories for Kids in Foster Care” and really liked it. Check it out!Tweet