Updated: May 26, 2019
A parent is a Jack-of-all-trades. As a young Dad I quickly learnt far more than I ever did in school or University. I learnt Psychology, persuading my daughter to put the coat on that she refused to wear. I learnt nursing, calming fevers and putting on slings. I learnt building, making dens and desks. For a parent the learning does not end. There's always something new to learn.
My favorite trade, the one I loved learning, was Storyteller. Children love stories. My youngest daughter asked a thousand times: "Can you tell us what it was like when you were a little boy?" Or, "What was it like in the olden days?" As if I was a boy hundreds of years ago. But then 20 years, is an unimaginable length of time for a young child. To her, my own childhood happened in the long distant past. Before mobile phones and the internet. Maybe around the time of The Egyptians.
When your child hears you tell a story, the world stops. Children since the beginning of time have listened to the stories of their parents. After food, and shelter, stories are a child's greatest need. It is stories that make the world meaningful. Remember those old dot-to-dot drawings? Before you connected the dots and colored them in, they were meaningless. Stories connected the dots. Stories bring color and life into the world of your growing child.
Stories help your child grow into the world. They give the world meaning.
There are 3 kinds of Stories. Stories read from books, stories told by heart, and made-up stories. Stories from books are easiest. You just need to make the time. A regular bed-time story every night is ideal. The rhythm of bath, story and bedtime will help your child feel safe. This bedtime ritual anchors your child into the warmth and safety of family and home. Soft lights, soft voices, intimacy. These calm your child. A moment of connection like this, between parent and child is a treasure. A strong bond will grow between you. Think of all the times you nag your child. "Don't pick the flowers", "Don't do that to the cat", "Don't put that in there." If you added up all the 'don'ts' uttered in a day, you'd be shocked. "Nagging", is one of the reasons children stop listening.
When you tell your child a story they hear you at your best. And they want to listen to you. A bedtime story unravels the nagging of the day.
Stories told by heart are the greatest teachers. The words, "by heart", are a clue. The story travels from your heart to your child's. When you know a story well, you can give all your attention to your child. You're not focusing on a page, you're focusing on them. To your child your story is a gift, offered just to them. This story gift will make them feel very special. Make a list of the stories that you are familiar with from your own childhood. Learn one. Tell it to your child. This one story you can probably tell 10 times. Your child will love to hear it again. Here's some online favorites: https://www.thetoptens.com/best-fairy-tales/
Best of all. Make up stories. Children love this. They can be very simple. They just need one key image. Things that happened to you, told in a simple way. Things you did as a child. Things that any family members or close friends did. Your child must know the person. Funny stories, but never anything mean or unkind. The time you baked a cake but forgot to put in sugar. The time the dog had a bath. When the hamster escaped. These stories color in the world, they connect the dots. They connect you with your child. Like the time Uncle Jack glued his glasses together, and got the tube of tube stuck in his beard.