We all love to share stories from our childhood or our parents’ childhoods. Remember the time Dad tried to fool us with the Santa outfit? How about the one from your grandmother on cooking in her home country or the one about a traditional family celebration?
Family stories are important to share with our little ones. It is never too early to start. They provide children with a sense of belonging — a connection to the family and the world around them. Research has shown that family storytelling helps children develop a better understanding of people’s emotions and supports the development of social intelligence (Duke, Lazarus & Fivush, 2008). Children who feel connected often have higher self-esteem and stronger self-awareness.
Listening to and sharing stories are as important as reading to your children. Storytelling helps your children develop their imagination and creativity. Learning through storytelling also supports language development, listening and critical–thinking skills.
You can start sharing stories about things that are familiar to your child, such as your first toy or favorite game, and how it was similar to or different from your child’s. Children love to hear stories about their babyhood.
When your family gets together, try this simple game. Put your family members’ names in a bowl. As each person draws a name, that person will tell a story about the person whose name was drawn.
You can also use your photo albums or look at the camera roll on your smartphone. Talk about the pictures, explain what the event was and tell the story about it. Don’t let the snapshots sit in a box or in the cloud. Share them and talk about them. Your children will love the connection and learn a great deal along the way.
Duke, M.P., Lazarus, A. & Fivush, R. (2008, June). Knowledge of family history as a clinically useful index of psychological well-being and prognosis: A brief report. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 45(2), 268-272.