When my three-year-old began to rock his chair at the dinner table, I told him a story from my childhood. My dad had seen me rocking my chair at the dinner table and asked me to eat the rest of my meal standing up, which served as a good deterrent never to try it again. I told my child this story only once and rest assured I’ve never seen him rocking his dining chair. On the rare occasion, he has thought of doing it, he immediately recalls the story mommy told him. I’m nowhere close to being as strict as my Dad was but I don’t need to be, thanks to the power of stories!
Storytelling with children can take various forms. It can be through telling your child stories about you and your family, it can be through reading storybooks together, it can be making your own stories or encouraging your child to come up with some of his own. Whichever form it takes, storytelling is a great tool for improving communication and connection with your child.
The Benefits Of Storytelling
Children Can Express Themselves: Children experience a range of emotions that they don’t have the capacity to process. It’s difficult to gain their cooperation while they’re in the midst of a huge meltdown or are having a rough day. Storytelling is a great tool to connect with your child. You are more likely to get through your child using an anecdote from your own experience or about an imaginary character than through a lengthy explanation.
Helps You Bond With Your Child: Storytelling is a guaranteed way of bonding with your child. Not just through storybooks that you read together, narrating stories from your childhood can be a great way for your child to know you better. Either way, setting aside some time for storytelling ensures you will spend quality time with your children.
Creates Empathy: Children naturally identify with some characters in a story. Whether it is about the hungry caterpillar that got a stomach ache after eating all that junk food or Ferdinand the bull who found happiness being himself, children instinctively understand the emotions the characters in the story experience. This is helpful in developing empathy, which is crucial for emotional intelligence.
How To Use Storytelling For Communicating With Your Child:
Read Together: Good storytellers usually are first good readers. Make reading with your child a part of your daily routine. In our home, making it a part of our bedtime routine has immensely helped. No matter how rushed the day has been, reading a few books together before bedtime helps me reconnect and bond with my two boys. It’s also a great way to wind down and end the day on a great note.
Ask Questions: A good way to encourage communication with your child through storytelling is to ask questions based on the story you’ve just narrated. How did the characters feel, what do you think he wanted to do, how do you think the story goes? Asking your child some questions based on the story gives them an opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts.
Make It A Game. Children have vivid imagination. Give them the opportunity to express their creativity through stories. One of my favourite games to play with my child is to start a story; “once there was a little boy” “Long ago there was a little cat “ and take turns with him to make our own story together. It’s fun, it is engaging and it gives us a chance to bond. Win-win.
Let Them Pick Their Books: To use storytelling as a way of communicating with our child, we first need to have their interest and attention. The best way to do that is to let them pick what book they want to read. Yes, they might want to read “The Gruffalo” ten days in a row, but there’s a reason they enjoy this book so much. Build your conversations around it. Understand what they like about the characters, dig around to know what they love about the book, your child will have so much to talk to you.
Storytelling is a precious joy of childhood. Make it a part of your life and you will see your child flourish, engage and thrive.