My Questions & Answers BOX by Jeanette Yoffe M.F.T.
Updated: Mar 17
*TO NOTE: This intervention can also be done for the traumatic grief of loved ones, people and pets and now questions about #COVID19 or #Coronvirus foster care, adoption, loss of a parent traumatically, and/or divorce.
AGE RANGE: 4-17 suggested.
GOAL: To help a child externalize unanswered questions and provide a container for their life experiences asking who, what, when, how and why? AND providing a STALLING tactic for parents when they don't know how to answer a new question, it goes in the question box and is answered in 1-3 days or 1 week!
THERAPY: Individual & Family. SYMPTOM REDUCTION: Anxiety, helplessness, and confusion.
SYMPTOM INCREASE: Empowerment, understanding, and making sense of what is happening or happened. MATERIALS:
2 boxes of any kind with a top or not Small sheets of paper or index cards Pen or pencil Materials to decorate the box, colored paper, stickers
Introduce the first box to the child as the "Question Box" which is going to hold all of the child's questions about their life experience now or in the past. Introduce the second box as the “Answers Box” which is going to hold any answers found out about their questions.
The child is encouraged to decorate and name each special box for themselves to create significance and importance. The child is then instructed to write questions down on the pieces of paper or draw a picture of the question if the child is too young to write, a parent can write down the questions and place them into the Question box.
It is important to tell the child that “sometimes we will not know all the answers but we at least have a place to hold the questions other than inside us all the time to help carry the load.”
Assist the child in writing questions, if they are too young to write, you can write the question for them. Do as many as they need. After all the questions are completed. Ask the child which question they want an answer to first. Then let them know, that you will give them an answer in 1-3 days or 1 week from today, up to you to decide the time frame and this time will allow you to do all the research to get the answer. This serves as a "stalling tactic" for parents to gather the information on there own, identify what is age-appropriate to share so they can make sense and understand.
And whenever they question something you don't have the answer you can say now "That's a great question, let's put it in your question box!" And breathe. Then give yourself some time to do the research and answer age appropriately.
The box may be shown to a doctor, a family member, a parent, a social worker or the child's attorney or any professional who may have answers about the child's past. After the answer is revealed after 1-3 days or 1 week, the answer card can get stapled to the question card and placed into the Answers Box for the child to read, hold, re-explore whenever they need to.
Examples of questions are:
Why is coronavirus happening?
What's a virus?
Am I going to die?
Is grandma going to die? Why am I in foster care? What happened to my mommy or daddy? What were there talents? Do I have any brothers or sisters? Why did my mommy give me up? Where is my mommy now? Who is my daddy? Can I get a picture of my mommy or daddy? What happened to my foster family? Is this my forever family? Can I write a letter to my foster family?
Why couldn’t they keep me?