Short Stories for Children
I love stories! I love them because they are fun and entertaining, but also because they are educational and enlightening and healing. People have gathered around campfires and dinner tables for thousands of years to weave tales both true and imaginary.
There are several particular kinds of stories that I believe can be important in your job of parenting. I hope you take these ideas to heart.
First, kids love to hear stories about their descendants. Pull out old photo albums and tell stories about the trials and tribulations and the successes and achievements of their past relatives. It’s important to know where you came from, and whose shoulders you are standing on. Kids especially like to hear about how they are like past relatives as far as their personalities, looks and character. It can also look like knowing where you got your name from, and why you may have been named after a relative.
Knowing your history gives you roots; it’s grounding for us. It also gives kids a sense of gratitude and perspective they might not have had previously.
Next, it’s important for kids to hear stories from diverse kinds of people. Listening to an elderly neighbor or a senior citizen in a nursing facility is a gift for the story teller and listener. My kids used to love to hear stories about World War II from their grandpa Lou. Volunteer at a soup kitchen and encourage your kids to listen to the stories of disadvantaged people. Have them connect with immigrants who are new to this country. All of these types of stories will enrich your child’s experience and give them more empathy and understanding.
And of course don’t forget to tell your children stories about you growing up. Kids are enamored of such tales. It humanizes us. They tend to see us as the “perfect end product that has it all figured out”, and don’t realize that we too had zits, friendship betrayals, insecurities and made oh-so-many mistakes. It lets kids know and believe that we truly do understand them because we’ve backed it up with a real life example of what we experienced at their age.
Finally, help kids make sense of their own experiences by deciding on what story they will make of them. You can decide some pretty negative things about yourself, relationships and life based on negative experiences. But parents can show kids that they are in charge of what they make of these experiences.
Kids can learn to focus on what they gained from their experiences; what were the gifts they will take from them, and then move on. The stories we choose to cling to will always be in our heads and hearts, and these stories will guide our future actions. So help kids make good sense of things so that their stories have happy endings.
Immersing kids in these kinds of stores helps kids feel more grounded; it gives them deeper understanding of things and it give them roots. In this world today that is so focused on individual achievements and success, stories may be our best vehicle to give kids a sense of the collective good; a sense of community. Stories have the power to heal wounds and bind us together. Make sure that you make stories an important part of your lives together.