Raising children with “telling stories”

“What about a telling story…can we have a telling story tonight?”, is the cry I’ve heard in my own family home ever since my two little boys could first talk. Of course they asked for “bookies” too as their chubby little hands dumped their latest favourite picture book in my lap and we’d snuggle in for a story together, but there was something different about the stories my husband and I would make up which they aptly named a “telling story”. Making up stories is something I think every parent does, whether they realise it or not. We naturally share tales of our own childhood with our children just like our own parents did with us, and it still amazes me just how much these ‘true’ stories deeply impact my boys. I know this because they ask to hear them again and again and again and again….plus, their body language says it all. When I read my boys kids stories from a book we all go into a quiet space together and it’s a lovely bonding experience. But when we tell stories together their eyes become wide and twinkly and it’s almost like I can see these huge imaginations within these lovely little heads full to bursting with wonder and aliveness. And the same thing happens to me. Yes, admittedly it requires a little more effort on my part than picking up one of our favourite bedtime stories to read (which is absolutely great too!), but when I do have the energy to muster up a story from within, it seems that both the boys and I receive a transmission of creative energy, I guess you could even call it love, that brings us closer together in a beautiful and intimate way. And much to my relief, I’ve noticed like you may have too, that it doesn’t seem to matter whether the story is well-crafted or not in terms of creating this powerful affect. The only thing that really matters as a parent story maker within the safe confines of my children’s bedroom, is my willingness to put myself into the story. And I guess there lies the power of a “telling story”. As a parent or caregiver, when you tell a story as opposed to reading it, you simply have to ‘show up’. It’s almost impossible to think about what you’re going to cook for dinner or what sweet treat you will snack on after the kids have gone to sleep (guilty) when you’re ‘telling’ a story as opposed to reading one. It’s such a great reminder for me that all my children really want from me – ever – is my presence, and the art of storytelling, whether you think you’re a storyteller or not, is a beautiful way to give this to them. Many happy “telling stories” to you and your family!

x Annie

PS Here’s a lovely read about father’s using storytelling to bond with their children as well as some great tips on how to engage in the art of “telling stories” with your children written for The Huffington Post by John McCormick.

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