Puppets are powerful and empowering – they encourage empathy and understanding in children

Puppet shows have been with us a very long time and seem to have existed in almost all civilizations! The earliest record of puppetry was reportedly found in the writings of Xenophon around 422 B.C. Glove puppets being very portable, probably explains their popularity in medieval times where they were used by travelling minstrels and other entertainers.  Puppets are still popular today in entertainment and their value in education and as a therapeutic tool is, I think, immeasurable…

My own passion for puppets was shaped by my relationship with a young boy I worked with as class teacher in an inner London special school. This boy was an elective mute; he had chosen not to speak outside of his home and was receiving weekly psychotherapy sessions at a local children’s hospital. After a year he invited me to join in these sessions. I met his amazingly gifted psychotherapist who showed me just how powerful puppets can be. I watched in amazement as this deeply withdrawn boy would whisper his anger, hopes and fears – but only through the voices of hand-held puppets. Months later, he was able to find his voice by giving informal puppet shows at school. It was a long, complex psychological process but this boy was eventually enabled, albeit tremulously, to speak with his own voice to his classmates and teachers.

When we bring puppets alive and young children become involved with their stories and games; they provide opportunities for children to develop social, emotional and communication skills. Puppets can suspend disbelief so that even the quietest child can whisper words of encouragement to a shy puppet and a noisy child learns to listen carefully to catch the voice of a shy puppet. For example, everyone likes our gorgeous little turtle puppet, that can retreat into it’s shell when he is feeling shy or afraid – children who feel shy at times can really relate to this puppet; it helps them deal with their own fears and shyness (to meet our turtle puppet please CLICK HERE).

In Circle Time the puppet can be a visitor or a ‘pretend’ member of the group who contributes to discussions and games. When the puppet speaks, children often giggle with joy or sigh with empathy. By giving a ‘problem’ to the puppet, children are freed up to think objectively about issues that involve them all. So if the puppet has friendship issues, children can offer ways to help. Every young child in the circle can become involved and want to help the puppet.  Children more inclined to talk or listen to a puppet than an adult and they are invaluable for opening discussions on difficult or embarrassing topics.  If it is the puppet that has the problem the children are eager to help and in offering help the children themselves feel they have something valuable to offer the group and so it is empowering in that way as well as encouraging empathy.   I firmly believe in the power of puppets and that is why this month we are offering two puppets and a copy of my Top Tips for Puppet Scripts booklet to help you get started if you have not used puppets before!

For more information on our May competition to win a puppet and a Puppet Scripts booklet, please CLICK HERE

To book a place on my Vibrant Circle Times for Early Years course, 23rd Sept 2016, please CLICK HERE

For all Jenny Mosley ‘open’ courses please CLICK HERE

Website Editor’s Notes  

  1. Jenny Mosley runs successful and transformative training conferences and courses for Early Years and Primary education. Courses focus upon improving social skills, positive behaviour for learning and Circle Time for social skills, as well as ‘Powerfully Positive Lunchtimes and Playtimes and ‘Calm Dining Halls’ training – CLICK HERE to see all forthcoming ‘Open’ training conferences for Early Years and primary that anyone can attend.
  2. For all other training enquiries – better behaviour for learning, improved social and communication skills, circle times, working with parents as partners and more, phone 01225 767157 or emailcircletime@jennymosley.co.uk or CLICK HERE
  3. Jenny’s latest book ‘How to create Calm Dining Halls is out now CLICK HERE to buy!
  4. Our webshop and catalogue is brimming with resources to products to help schools and life in the, assembly halls, classrooms, dining halls and playgrounds.  CLICK HERE to visit our webshop