Tortoise Brain or Hare Brain?

brain running

Doctor’s Illustration of Rose’s Brain

Explaining to a five year old why their brain doesn’t work quit right is a challenge. The psychiatrist gave it his best shot, “There is this little man in this part of your brain (He points to a picture of the brain and the part that controls impulses and self-regulation). He runs really, really fast. Then there is this guy (he points to the picture of the stick figure standing in the thinking part of the brain). He doesn’t move as fast. We want to play a game to stop this guy (the impulsive one) and speed up this guy (the thinking one) so that he (the thinking one) wins the race.”

hare 1

My first thought – Rose’s brain is The Tortoise and the Hare. How can I use the story to help her in her therapy?

I love, love, love the book “Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviors.” (Did I mention I love this book?) The book asks the question, “Could truths contained in the rich realm of story reach children more directly, and in a way more in tune with their innate imaginative capacities?”  Later in the book, Susan Perrow answers this question by writing, “All stories have therapeutic or healing potential. If a story makes people laugh, the laughter can be healing. If a story makes them cry, this can be healing too. Folk and fairy tales, through their universal themes and resolutions, have healing possibilities. They can offer hope and courage to face the trial of life and help the listener find ways to move forward…But over and above the healing potential of all stories, specific stories can help or heal specific situations…When (we) use a healing story with children, the story has the potential to bring the behavior or situation back into balance.”

Perrow’s advice for writing or rewriting classic stories for a specific child’s needs:

  1. Focus on specific behavior (“throws a toy” not “acts out violently”)
  2. Use Repetition, rhythm and rhyme (these stick in the mind)
  3. Have a happy and hope-filled ending

I decided to write a “healing” story to help with the process. Here is my humble attempt:

hare 3

Once upon a time there was a hare. He was very bouncy, and jumped around aimlessly. He moved so fast, he never stopped to think about where he was going or what he was doing.

In the same meadow, lived a tortoise. As everyone knows, tortoises are very slow. What they may not know is that tortoises are also very wise. The reason they are slow is because they think about every step they take.

One day the tortoise said to the hare,

“Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

“I am so much faster than the tortoise and I so like to win.” thought the Hare.

The tortoise repeated,

“Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

So the race began. The tortoise thought about where he was going and began moving. He did not move fast, but he kept his eye on the finish line and kept moving forward – thinking about each step as he went. As he strode along, the tortoise kept repeating,

 “Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

The hare knew he would win – and he had a little time to spare – so he jumped and hopped and spun around in circles. The hare accidentally kicked a rock and stubbed his toe. It hurt, but he could still hop on one foot faster than the tortoise could walk.

All of the sudden the tortoise passed the hare – still saying,

 “Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

The hare became really angry when he saw the tortoise passing and instead of hopping faster towards the finish line, he kicked a tree with his good foot. “OWWW” yelled the hare.

Just then the tortoise crossed the finish line and said,

 “Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”

The hare was sad that he had not stopped and thought about how to win the race like the tortoise did – but the wise tortoise promised to help him STOP, THINK, and 

 “Run a race – if you dare.

The race is won by the one with care.”


My Illustration of Rose’s Brain

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