How Stories Help Kids (and Adults) Make Meaning | Deborah Farmer Kris | 3 Min Read

A few summers ago, my young daughter stood at the edge of a pool. She had learned to swim at a local lake, where she could wade in gently. Now, she wanted to conquer an old fear: jumping. 

She approached and then retreated.

“You don’t have to do this today if you don’t want to,” I said.

“I’m doing this,” she said. 

“Okay, then I’ll wait here in the water until you are ready.”

As I watched her battle between flight and resolve — and then watched her dive! — I thought of this quote from psychologist Susan David,

“Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is fear walking.” 

Or fear jumping.

As we talked later, I told her,

“Now you have another story to tell yourself the next time you are scared. You can remember that moment on the edge and say, ‘I did it then and I can do it again.’”

Stories Matter

Stories are powerful tools for motivating children and teens, inspiring their vision of who they can be, and helping them find meaning in life’s challenges. 

According to research, teens who read about the…

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Deborah Farmer Kris

A writer, teacher, parent, and child development expert, Deborah Farmer Kris writes regularly for PBS KIDS for Parents and NPR’s MindShift; her work has been featured several times in The Washington Post; and she is the author of the All the Time picture book series (coming out in 2022) focused on social-emotional growth. A popular speaker, Deborah has a B.A. in English, a B.S. in Education, and an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology. Mostly, she loves finding and sharing nuggets of practical wisdom that can help kids and families thrive — including her own. You can follow her on Twitter @dfkris, contact her at [email protected], or visit her website: Parenthood365 (