Once Upon A Time: Telling A Story
Once upon a time……Telling stories is a peaceful, magical way to create special moments with our children. Whether it is at bedtime or on a rainy day, I believe every parent can and should take the time to tell a story. With an open mind and a bit of imagination, we can create our own stories using both modern and traditional tales, and even personal experiences.
When I was working in the Early Childhood Education field, I quickly discovered how storytelling can be a great healing tool for dealing with challenging behaviours or a difficult situation. I would consciously choose stories that would relate to a particular child’s challenges and would often find myself modifying the story’s content in order to create a healing space for that child.
The challenging behaviours we may want to address might be dishonesty, teasing, bullying, experiences such as moving house; or problems such as separation anxiety, fear, and illness and grieving, or even everyday situations like tidying up.
As a parent of 2 boys who attend a Steiner Waldorf school, healing stories are a regular thing in our household. Stuffed animals, little figurines or objects from nature, will be weaved into my stories as props to strengthen its message.
For example, my youngest one was having a difficult time adapting to junior kindergarten. He became loud and disruptive. I chose a story about a blue bird who sang beautifully in the garden. He also sang quite loudly and all the time, which never gave the chance for the other birds to sing their melodies. The blue bird ended up getting a sore throat and had to rest for a few days. This created the opportunity for the other birds to sing their songs and the blue bird realized just how beautiful they all sounded.
The message behind this story is obvious to us, but my son really connected to this bird and asked me to tell him the story several times. Within a few days, his disruptive behavior had greatly diminished.
All stories have therapeutic or healing potential. If a story makes them laugh, that laughter can be healing. If a story makes them cry, this can be healing too. My favourite stories are folks and fairy tales because they can offer hope and courage to face the trials of life and help the listener find ways to move forward.
The very experience of listening to a story, no matter what the content, can be healing. Used regularly in schools, storytelling can help develop and strengthen children’s concentration and activate their imagination. These effects act as a healing balm in our modern times when children often spend many hours in passive mode in front of a screen.
An important message I understood years ago is that a story told by you is a gift to your child; a wonderful act of sharing and communication which enriches family life.