Parents asked for it so many times I couldn’t ignore their request any longer. Let me explain a little better.

I am a Children’s Literature expert and storytelling coach. I have been researching and teaching Children’s Literature and storytelling for over 15 years. My academic work includes mentoring University students at undergraduate and postgraduate level in Malta, as well as consultancy for cultural and educational institutions and train the trainer programmes. I wrote a PhD (N’Cle, UK) on the impact that digital technology has on literature for children and adolescents. I have published and produced various pieces on narrative creation and production, as well as digital literacy and learning through play. Throughout my career, I have also managed and run storytelling projects that allow various communities to connect to other people and the world around them more deeply.

My special interest is in working with children and adolescents and I have now chosen to support parents of 5 – 10 year old children because I realised that parents are the most unsupported demographic that we have.

Each time I run a workshop or longer term project with children, the parents always ask for my help to continue developing their children’s interest in storytelling. They recognise the focus and determination stories gift them. They notice that restless or anxious children are able to engage and feel empowered. They realise that stories help them to work through difficult emotions and situations with their children. Family communication improves, making life easier for everyone.

I searched all over for a programme that I could recommend to parents who wanted to learn, to grow alongside their children. I couldn’t find one. And so, together with a team of researchers, storytellers, writers, and child development specialists, I created Children Who Belong.

Children Who Belong is a programme which aims to replace parent overwhelm and guilt with deeper connection and a touch of magic.

Storytelling has had a tremendous impact on my life, both professionally and personally. But perhaps the most significant difference it made has been to my parenting. Being a parent is exceptionally hard and it never ends! The difficulties are numerous but what I found to be unbearable was the sense of being alone.

The 3am cold sweats trying to figure out whether I had handled a situation with my children well. Or the hours long searches trying to find a way to repair the damage I may have done because instead of listening and making my child feel valued, I turned away to deal with the hundred things on my to do list. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a good parent. It was just that I had a lot on my plate and I was exhausted.

Plus, I had no prior experience or training in being a parent!

My twins are now teenagers and more than ever I am grateful for the stories we shared as they were growing up. Firstly, because having shared stories means having shared memories and that forms a lifelong bond. And, secondly, because the stories we tell become the lives that we live. I realised just in time that I needed to shift our negative stories into more curious and courageous ones.

I believe parents are a force that has not yet been reckoned with. They are also the most unsupported group of service providers that exists in all communities around the world. I would like to do my part to change that.

No more parenting alone. No more guilt. No more negative stories.

But none of us can do it alone. We need each other and now we have a space which brings us all together in an easy and impactful way. That’s why I created Children Who Belong as part of the bigger platform, Raising Curious and Courageous Children. Check out our website here: www.curiousancourageous.com
By becoming aware of the stories that we share with our families, we can observe if they honour the values, beliefs and behaviours that we want to see in our children. By aligning our family stories to our dreams and desires we manifest the lives that we want, enabling ourselves and our children to grow. We have to ask ourselves whether the stories we share in our families are enhancing the communication among ourselves but also with the wider world.

If we want our children to feel confident, are we using shame to discipline them?

If we want our children to be courageous, are we telling them stories of how cruel the world can be?

If we want our children to be open to connection, do we speak sceptically of others?

If we want our children to be kind and compassionate, do we instil fear of what is different in them or teach them to reach out?

By learning more about how stories work we can parent more playfully and with less stress, negotiating meaning and understanding of consequence without having to resort to harsher disciplinary methods. Instead, we play with possibility and pass on knowledge and wisdom in an experiential way.
Children Who Belong consists of 8 full weeks of stories and support. It is a holistic programme that takes the needs and well-being of parents as seriously as it does those of children. Parents receive online and in-person coaching and support. They get access to:

An online Member Centre full of resources for them and their children

4 parent coaching modules that they can access in their own time.

8 Q & A online sessions

4 story drawers, including the stories and guided activities

An online parent pod of support

A storytelling breakfast and focus session with me (because parents deserve to be treated to nice things too!)

What separates my programmes from other educational and cultural experiences is that they are always holistic. We only support whole families and whole class communities (We have a teachers’ programme too) to create story spaces through which children can learn through play and I only work with 5 – 10 year old children.

In this way, parents and teachers who work with me receive proven storytelling systems and step-by-step information on exactly what they need to do form a much more open and trusting relationship with their children, quickly, and with less fear.
In Children Who Belong, we use a simple three step method. First, we clear space in our family lives for more open communication. We work on a physical space for sharing as this leads us to clearing space emotionally. In this part of the process, we support parents to become more aware of how communication works in their family.

Once this is ongoing, we begin work on making our feelings and those of our children more visible. Young children do not always know how to identify emotions or talk about them. Unless we find effective ways of observing our children’s experiences and understanding how outward behaviour stems from inner processing of emotion, we will not be able to understand and support our children calmly and confidently. In the second part of our storytelling method, we show parents how stories can help children associate their own experiences with that of story characters, making the expression of their feelings easier to handle.

In the final step of our method, we share different ways of working through the story values and behaviours that we want to encourage in the children, through play. We provide the stories themselves plus a whole lot of step-by-step activities. Parents share their experience of telling these stories to their children with the rest of the community in our warm virtual parent pods.

Together with the parents who work with us, we build community spaces through which no-one has to parent alone anymore. Having support makes all the difference to how we bring up our children.
Stories work by association. If we have been through the experience narrated we feel validated, if not the stories teach us empathy – the ability to see the world through the eyes of another. They also showcase types of human behaviour for us, we learn what works and what doesn’t in a safe space – we understand our place in the bigger picture. All human civilisation, from the very start, is founded on stories. Stories give us our identity and show us where we belong.

Stories are holders of ancient wisdom, they are older than any of us alive (and goodness knows we could all do with a bit of guidance sometimes). They offer deep truths that weed out the more superficial stories in mainstream culture. The characters in traditional stories have to work hard on themselves to reach the resolution to their problem. When we witness this work as children, we begin to understand how curiosity, courage, determination, and integrity are essential to living fulfilled lives. There’s no magic wand but there is magical awareness.

Additionally, stories allow us to manifest the lives that we want. If we want to align our children to our values and dreams we have to share the same stories.