Grandpa is a warm and loving hedgehog who helped his grandson Eddie to voice his worries through stories of other animals and challenges that they overcame. This book tells one of Grandpa’s stories, in which a T-Rex feels different from everyone around him. He feels isolated. This story shows that T-Rex is truthful to himself despite his siblings and other creatures being scared of, or mocking him, for not being enough of how they think a T-rex should be. With determination, he embarks on a journey to find a good friend. The story provides a rich and wonderful language to describe feelings that will help to engage and to deepen an awareness of feelings.
All children struggle at points at different developmental stages. As they grow and find themselves in new environments and social experiences, they will inevitably at some point be left with a lot of unprocessed feelings. Storytelling is an authentic way into a child’s inner world. Children naturally think in symbols and metaphors in their play and dreams. This is how children also process experiences. Telling stories like T-Rex and Eddie help children to develop a language to articulate their feelings and deepen their own awareness of themselves in relation to different environments and situations. It can enable them to open up about something that they may have been keeping inside or an experience they had yet to find the words to express emotions.
Questions the parent can ask the child?
Children often find it very difficult when adults ask how they feel when something big happens in their lives, for a variety of reasons. They may feel overwhelmed, or do not understand what they are feeling. A way in and a chance to connect with your child could be by describing an experience in which you remember you struggled. How did you overcome something you found tough? This is also an opportunity to let a child know that feeling different is completely normal without trying to fix or find a solution, by naming the feelings and the difficulties one faces helps to reduce anxiety and develop insight into oneself and how a child may fit into their world.
After reading this book you could sit with your child asking open-ended questions about the characters in the story and how they think T-Rex and Hedgehog were feeling. You could ask them who they identified within the story. Also, ask questions like, ‘How do you think Eddie felt when he first saw Grandpa and told him about the dance classes?’. A child may also take time to process this book and may be inspired to create something together such as acting out or drawing pictures of a scene that they remember from the story. Follow their lead and see where it may take you. Most importantly have fun with it!
Ruth Israel is an integrative child and adolescent psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. She has worked for many years in schools, charities and has taught child psychotherapists. She has used stories like these to help children to process trauma and develop a language for feelings. Ruth works in the UK and in Israel.