“Will you tell me a story about when you were a little boy?” my sister and I would ask my dad upon being tucked in at night. Stories were always a special treat. As an adult, I can still remember the details of those stories and the measured, soft tone of voice my dad had while telling them.
Here’s why we all should invest in some good ole fashioned storytelling with our kids.
It Feeds Their Imagination
The stories my dad shared with us weren’t stories about “that one time I found $5 on the sidewalk.” They were real, meaty stories with a conflict and resolution. The kind of stories that you wanted to hear again and again. There was suspense and drama!
This type of storytelling, of which you the parent are the impromptu author and narrator, sets the stage for imagination. There are no pictures, no words, no pages. Children tap into their own sponge-like minds to form imagery and meaning based off of your story and the way only you can tell it.
It Teaches the Art of Storytelling
You’re doing more than telling your child a story, you’re teaching them how to tell one themselves. When you tell a story, there’s a 99.9% chance your children will ask you between one to a million questions afterward being the curious creatures they are (maybe that’s why stories were a special treat).
“But how did you get into the boat? Why was it raining that day?”
This is how children fill in the gaps and learn how to tell stories and present information. What details did you include as the storyteller, what details did you leave out? From you, they’re learning how to earn someone’s attention, how to hold it and how to make the story worthwhile. We all have those friends who can light up the room with a good story or those colleagues who can brilliantly summarize a complicated issue…chances are that they learned those techniques at a young age.
It Helps Them Understand Your Character
The most important reason to tell your children stories about yourself is so they can understand your character as a person. Surviving a bolt of lightning, a tornado at the lake and fighting off a rattlesnake…bravery was the theme of the stories that my dad shared with us growing up. He never said, “Hey kids, I’m really brave!” We knew it through the stories he shared with us. We understood who my dad was and what he would do in any given situation.
While I’ve not fought off any rattlesnakes in my lifetime, I can share stories with my daughter about how I was brave in my own way. Did I do something that was kind? Unexpected? Remarkable?
If it’s a story that comes from the heart with a good meaning, your child will love it and you’ll teach them something so valuable in the process!
- Don’t wait, do it tonight!
- Think about your past, what sticks out? What are you proud of? What was a challenge you overcame?
- Don’t completely wing it. Think about the outline of the story in your head, maybe even jot it down or practice it out loud.
- Make it a big deal. Storytelling is important, so dress it up as such! “Hey, I’ve got a special surprise for you tonight!”