The hand puppet is a wonderful tool, and should not be missing in your toolbox if you are working as a teacher, an educator, a child coach, counselor or therapist.

The puppet can do so much and has possibilities and opportunities that other tools do not have. A puppet makes contact easily, invites children to participate, make themselves heard, let them practice new skills and help them better understand themselves and the world around them. With a puppet nearby, children dare more and show you sides of them that are not or hardly shown without a puppet.

And that has to do with what a puppet is for a child. With how children see a puppet. When you manage to maintain that power and integrate it into your approach and daily practice, a tool will be created with which you can start collecting information about a child.

You can think of:

  • getting to know what lives in the child;
  • understanding how the child experiences a particular situation;
  • clarifying what the child is having trouble with;
  • understanding how the child thinks;
  • getting clear what the child (not) needs;
  • challenging the child to express themselves;
  • challenging the child to push boundaries;
  • let the child practice new skills;
  • hold up a mirror to the child;
  • give the child alternatives to existing behavior;
  • support the child in language development.

The effect that the puppet can have on a child can be enormous. Children who hardly dared to speak allow themselves to be questioned by the puppet ; children who showed little emotion and involvement show through the puppet what lives in them; children who did not dare to take initiatives, let themselves inviting through the puppet to explore together.

The fact that a child is more easily challenged by a puppet has everything to do with the way a child sees a puppet. For them, a puppet is a friend who poses no threat, where they don’t have to prove themselves and who doesn’t demand any performance from them. With the puppet, they can be completely themselves. That gives immediate relaxation.

Let the puppet be a friend who won’t take over your role

To use the hand puppet effectively in the care sector, it is necessary that the child continues to experience the puppet as safe and familiar. As soon as the puppet takes over your role, it loses its power and the child will ignore him. But that doesn’t mean the puppets follows the child blindly and thinks everything is fine. It is possible to have your puppet adjusted and intervened where necessary. If you manage to make the puppet credible for the child, the puppet does not lose its value as a friend and a tool is created that only has advantages.

Do you have a puppet and don’t know where to start to turn it into a beautiful tool, or is it not turning out the way you hoped? Just send me a mail helen@helenmeurs.com, I’m happy to help you get started.

With Love,

Author

Helen Meurs (helenmeurs.com) is a pioneer in the field of Puppet Power, an independent trainer and developer. She offers online courses, is the lead instructor at the vocational training for puppet coaches, and authored the book ‘The Hand Puppet as a Educational Tool’. Subscribe to her newsletter if you want to know more.

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