When stories are more powerful than a stack of parenting books ~ Entangled Harmony

Yesterday, I found myself scrolling through my Facebook Newsfeed and just when I was about to close it up, something caught my eye.

“I had a great experience this past month concerning story telling,…” was what I read. It was a post by a mom in one of the storytelling groups I am. (Yes, I’m in multiple storytelling groups. It’s become a bit of an obsession of mine…well, let’s just call it passion.)

I quickly read the post and it was BEAUTIFUL! I checked the clock and I only had 5 minutes to spare before my nature class started and children would come running through the gate.  Enough time….enough time to send this mom a message asking her permission to share her story with you. She replied almost immediately and said YES!

Before I say anything else, here is Joan’s story…

I have 2 children ages 7 and 9. When they were about 3 and 5 I made a conscious effort to tell them made up stories. I didn’t want to do it, and I didn’t really enjoy making up stories on the spot all the time, but I did it for about a year.

After that, I told them less and less and soon the kids stopped asking for them. We got ourselves into a different bedtime rhythm and I was happy with it. But then I came across a video from an Author/Speaker that I really like, about raising inspired children. I watched it and I was really amazed to find out that he had sent his children to a Waldorf School AND he used stories to help his kids figure out to make better choices. That was all I needed, and I decided then to start telling stories to my kids again.

They were bickering all the time and the younger one was having very emotional outbursts a lot! The next evening, I told them a story. It was completely on the spot, I had no idea what I was going to say exactly, except for that it was going to be about a situation my daughter had just had that very same day. I was completely blown away at how responsive she was to it. Before I told the story that night, I had tried talking to her about the trouble she had caused that day, and she was having none of it! She wasn’t going to talk to me about it, period. So, I continued on with reading books and our bedtime routine and then I told the kids I wanted to tell them a story. They were so excited! They listened intently!! They were on the edge of their seats! And even though it was so obvious that it was all about my older daughter and the incident she had had earlier that day, she still loved it! Both of them did. And they asked if I would tell them a new story every night!

This was about 4 weeks ago. I haven’t told a story every night. But I am making an effort to do this regularly. I realized also that i don’t have to make each story about some deep important lesson I want my kids to understand. I think that puts too much pressure on me. And it was very clear from that first story last month, that story time is bringing us closer together. Which is the best part of all!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that Joan started telling stories because she knew that her children would benefit from them and she completely put her own feelings aside. And I bet that it got much easier for her to tell stories as the year went on. Taking that first step is always the hardest.

As Joan says, the stories don’t have to be about some important lesson all the time. Sometimes, they can be a retelling of your child’s day or a specific event or struggle. Those are some of the stories my children enjoy the most.

Over the winter, my daughter’s hair was getting very tangled. The dry air and wearing hats every day didn’t help the matter. So, brushing her long hair in the morning was becoming a bigger and bigger struggle and we were both dreading it. One morning, I decided to take a different approach. As soon as I picked up the brush, I began to tell her a story about a young fairy with long golden hair….

Once upon a time, there was a young fairy. She had beautiful long golden hair. She loved her hair and wanted it to grow all the way to sun for it was the same color. But her long hair always got tangled up when she was playing and her mom had to brush it. The fairy didn’t like that at all. She squirmed and wiggled and would not sit still. One day her mother told her “If you don’t let me brush your hair, it will get so tangled up that it will soon look like a nest and before you know it, a bird will come along and lay its eggs in it.” The fairy said “NO, my hair is not a bird’s nest. It will grow all the way to the sun.” And from that day forward, she sat still whenever her mom gently brushed the tangles out of her long hair.

My daughter asked for that story almost every morning for a couple of weeks. She now sits still and rarely fusses anymore.

Telling stories can truly be magical at times. I’m still surprised every time a story gets my children to do what reminding (aka nagging) them and explaining couldn’t accomplish.

Want to give storytelling a try?

  1. Use the basic story line from the story above.
  2. Choose a character that your son or daughter can relate to.
  3. Think through your day and pick out a time that is a struggle at the moment (getting dressed in the morning, eating breakfast, washing hands, brushing teeth, etc.).
  4. Think of a consequence for not doing that particular task. Make it silly…it doesn’t need to be realistic.
  5. Tell the story and have fun with it.

And don’t put this one off until ‘later’. We all know that ‘later’ means ‘never’. Surprise your child with a story today and watch their eyes light up.

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