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A good bedtime story does the trick

Of the many stories Tom told his four-year-old, one, in particular, stood out—the story of a knight who saves a beautiful princess held captive in an old castle on the hills. Today, as he watched his son build sandcastles on the beach, he vividly recalled the gleam in his son’s bright blue eyes, a year ago, as Tom narrated the story.

A flood of memories gushed through Tom’s mind. When Tom was little, his father told him stories about angels, gods, civilisations, kings, and their glorious conquests among many other fascinating topics. He later realised how impactful those stories were during his formative years.

Those value-based stories not only shaped his personality but also made Tom more expressive and developed his ability to read and write well. A father now, Tom wanted to carry forward his father’s legacy of storytelling. He wished to gift his son all that he had received years back from his father. As he sat down to study the nuances of storytelling, Tom thought of all the stories that once moved him to tears, inspired, or influenced him. The approaching summer would be the best time to start, he decided.

Everyone loves a good story, you don’t have to be a child to enjoy one. We all once pestered our parents and grandparents to tell us stories, but little did we know what these stories did to our minds and how they shaped our personalities. To take Tom’s quest further, Soulveda decided to explore the world of storytelling and how it can be an integral part of a child’s life.

As one of the most fundamental methods of communication, storytelling helps parents strengthen their relationship with their children. Popular storyteller Jeff Gere told Soulveda, “Our brain literally puts everything in a story format. A beginning, a climax, and a conclusion and that is the way we process everything in this world.” Gere asserts stories are fundamental and endemic. We always look for a story everywhere. If there is no story, we make one up. More so, for children, everything in a story format is more enjoyable and easily comprehensible.

Sometimes stories are answers to bigger problems like tantrums. Gere shares the incident of an unruly kid who had stabbed his parents with a fork.

Through stories, you can put forth ideas and fuel a child’s imagination. A story immediately puts the child’s brain into action, enhancing their cognitive skills. For instance, when you tell a child the prince’s skin was as soft as a marshmallow, he delves into his own world imagining the prince, the marshmallows, and their softness.

Our brains are wired this way. When someone narrates a story to a child, the child has a deeper involvement in it as he puts himself in the shoes of the protagonist and imagines the situations as real and personal. Whether it is books, pictures, or rhymes, the characters in a story help children understand themselves. Gere says, “Stories help children empathise. It is a DNA strand of cause and effect. If we don’t have stories embedded in our psyche how can we empathise?”

Moreover, when you tell a moral story to a child, he is less likely to forget the moral behind it. Stories stay etched in a child’s mind forever. Each time there is a situation akin to it, he probably will act in the right manner. “The bad guy doesn’t get far and the good guys triumph at the end. These are lessons for life,” Gere says.

Sometimes stories are answers to bigger problems like tantrums. Gere shares the incident of an unruly kid who had stabbed his parents with a fork. The kid was taken to a child psychologist who told him, why do you let that little thing inside you—that angry monkey—run your life? When your parents or somebody does something that makes you mad, the little anger monkey makes you do stupid wild things? Why don’t you tell that monkey to get off your back, sit in the corner and wait till it is appropriate? You just did monkey for the monkey. Gere informs that since then the psychologist never heard of any such incidents from the family.

We are all living a story. Don’t you want to change yours? Don’t you want to live another? If you tell someone they have the ability to write new characters, do something wonderful, and change their own story, it makes a lasting impact on them and they can change for the better. Stories stay with us for life, let’s all write memorable ones.

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