Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Parents as Storytellers: How to Begin Storytelling with your Children

Are you wondering how to start storytelling with your children?  Parents have told me they sometimes feel intimidated, especially if they do not have any kind of performing or public speaking background.  They compare themselves to a professional storyteller and think they will not be as good.  But parents have one huge advantage over a professional storyteller: they know their children and storytelling is all about the connection and interaction between the storyteller and the listener. 

One simple way to start is by recalling the story of some event that the parent and child shared.  You cannot imagine how much children seem to enjoy this.  When I tell stories to my children, they often request that I tell about the time our family had a birthday party or went on a particular vacation, or went to a particular place (Legoland and Disneyland are popular choices!).  I am always little surprised how much they get into it and how much joy it brings them.  One of my children has anxiety about the dark so I think this helps her transition by giving her something joyful to think about.

Parents can also choose either to learn a well-known story or make up one of their own.  The safety and security of the home environment is an excellent place for young children to feel comfortable to develop their own stories or act out stories they heard or made up themselves.  This will help them develop the confidence in themselves to seek additional experiences outside the home.

When storytelling takes place between a child and a parent, that interaction deepens and enriches the bond that already exists between them.  The parent gains invaluable insight to the world and perspective of their child.  The child feels reassured in profound and fundamental way of their importance.  Whether as a teller or a listener, the child knows what they say and feel matters.  And it matters to the most important people in their lives.  What is a greater gift to give a child?

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