There are numerous debates on the subject of "fairy tales". Every single story offers wide scope for interpretation and is a testimony of the former society, old beliefs and traditions. But also of psychological processes - which always run the same in us humans, regardless of the respective time.
In my work with children, I always have to ask myself the question: Are fairy tales educationally valuable? And in view of stereotypes such as the mean stepmother and the prince on the white horse: Are they still up to date at all?
I myself am a big fan of fairy tales, although as a child I found the stories very scary at times and certainly owe my nightmares of evil witches to them. Nevertheless, they can hardly be imagined away from the care. For example, I opened a fairy tale museum together with children, where they could use their imagination to put together exhibits about their favorite characters. And I would like to briefly explain here that this is rightly still a topic today.
The value of magical stories
Fairy tales are more than just stories to read aloud and fall asleep to. Not to mention, of course, that they also improve family bonding and language skills, and that, in addition to values and rules, ancient wisdom is passed down in the stories.
The fairy tales work with simple descriptions on a pictorial, very symbolic and emotional level. This makes it easy for children to put themselves in the place of other beings and become empathetic.
On the other hand, it can directly address the subconscious - which also works figuratively. Emotions can be brought out in us, which we might otherwise have difficulty accessing. Our own fears, dreams, ideas, etc. can be processed and get a symbolic equivalent.
As a listener, you can sympathize with the hero, you can experience other people's adventures as your own and celebrate the setbacks and the successes just the same. Numerous behavioral models, conflicts and interpersonal problems are addressed, analyzed and solved. The imagination is not only trained, but also used to act out feelings, to put wishes and desires into a form.
The pedagogy behind
Fairy tales offer a protected space for healing and processing. And for this, there are a wide variety of methods in fairy tale education that go beyond simply listening. Discussions can be stimulated around the theme, stories can be acted out, rewritten, transferred to today's situations, or otherwise creative.
This may sound a bit pompous and also the book "Kinder brauchen Märchen" by Bruno Bettelheim is very clear in this respect. One must not forget that for the Grimm's fairy tales above all children in the age of four to eight years are called as addressees. And according to child psychologists, at that age they can only understand the extremes of black and white. They need the clear demarcation of the "evil stepmother" and the "good prince," who figuratively stand for many other things.
At the same time, supernatural beings and abilities always appear as a matter of course. This shows that you can't and shouldn't transfer the stories one-to-one into reality. Of course, the world out there is much more complex.
And since society and the role models in them have changed considerably in some cases, I think it would make sense to deal with modern versions in addition to the classic fairy tales. But the principle in them is still just as valid today.
With the positive outcome of the stories, children are also given an emotional security in life. Knowing how to behave and what the consequences of actions may be makes one more self-confident and resilient to the uncertainties of the future.
However, the possible effect on the psyche remains valuable not only for children. Our imagination and the creative creativity inherent in all of us can still be awakened in adults by means of fairy tales and contribute to a healthy soul.
Thus, one of the most widespread fairy tales is yet a source of joy and compassion across all ages. And here, too, it is about the symbolic meaning of what it stands for:
The story of Santa Claus!