Written by Team ParentCircle and published on 22 June 2021.
Storytelling is a practice as old as the hills. Stories have enchanted grownups and children through the ages. But alas, is the digital way of life depriving our children of the joys of this timeless means of communication?
"Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today" - Robert McKee, a creative writing instructor
Nowadays, we spend most of our free time glued to the screens of mobile phones, tablets, or other such gadgets. We seem to depend on gadgets to not only make our lives comfortable but also to fulfill our emotional needs. But despite advancements in technology, gadgets remain devoid of the 'human touch. And one disheartening fallout is that the importance of storytelling for children has diminished.
A conversation with loved ones is always special and makes us feel good. The same holds true for children as well. They love to converse, listen to stories, or make up a story and tell it to others. And has it ever struck you that our conversations are nothing but a collage of stories!
To add to the above quote by Robert McKee, it can be said that telling stories is also the best way to help children view the mundane in a different and interesting way.
Stories excite the imagination: Listening to stories stimulates a child's curiosity and imagination endlessly. Fantasy is the key to exploration and creative thinking. The rich imagery in the mind inspires a child to play around with ideas and create experiences without the fear of being judged or criticized.
Stories build vocabulary: By listening to stories, children get to hear many new words. They love to hear their favorite stories over and over again, thus they become familiar with new vocabulary. A growing vocabulary will enable your child to express herself clearly and well.
Stories deal with emotions: Stories play a crucial role in developing your child's social and emotional skills. It is far easier to talk about feelings and emotions through the characters in a story than to try and explain them to your child. Children often struggle with difficult emotions such as sadness, anger, jealousy, and frustration. Weaving these emotions into a story is a safe way to get your child to understand his own feelings and learn to regulate them, the way the characters do in the story.
Stories instill values: What parents cannot accomplish through commands can be achieved through storytelling. Stories help a child imbibe values in an enjoyable and stress-free manner. A story with good morals remains etched in a child's memory, as opposed to lectures and advice from parents.
Short stories are engaging: Short stories are an excellent tool to comfort children, especially when they are upset and need help to settle down. A simple narration of what is happening at the moment becomes a short story. Short stories are just enough to sustain a child's attention span as well as arouse his curiosity and imagination.
Bedtime stories are comforting: Listening to a bedtime story is soothing and calming at the end of a hectic day. It takes the child from wakefulness to drowsiness, preparing him for a good night's sleep. And when you cannot spend quality time with your child during the day, putting him to bed with a story lets him know that he is loved and cared for.
Now that you realize the power of telling stories to children, let's understand that it need not always be a 'once upon a time' story. Anything that you want to tell your child and want him to listen to with undivided attention can become a story, and anytime can be storytime. Sounds interesting right?
Here are two ways to help you become a storyteller:
While storytelling helps parents bond with children, it is also an effective way to reduce screen time, for both parents and children! And you can become your child's all-time favorite storyteller!