Children enjoy stories, whether the story stems from a book theme, family adventure, or even just on a whim. As a child I loved hearing the story of how my parents met told over and over. No matter how many times I heard it, it always made me feel special inside. I especially enjoyed the banter between them as they’d try to correct each other with comments like, “You’re not telling it right. . . that’s not how it happened.”
We are all natural storytellers. If you can say, “Hey, let me tell you the story of (fill in the blank)” you have stories to share. That statement alone sets the stage for adventure and imagination. It helps capture attention and prepares young listening ears for a story to unfold.
The convenience of oral stories is that they can be shared at anytime under any circumstance. In fact, I used to tell stories to help calm my kids down from tantrums or help them manage feelings of distress. The story didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the situation at hand but it helped keep both of our emotions grounded and perhaps offer some light humor to what was happening. My go-to comic relief story is the one where I accidentally exploded a taco bell sauce packet all over my sister when we were kids. That story always brings a smile to my kids when they aren’t getting along.
My point being is that everything we do can be turned into a story, fact or fiction. The action of bringing language and imagination together is a recipe for cognitive development, relationship building, and bonding. An easy story starter is what is in your pocket. Yes, there is a story in your pocket both literally and figuratively. Draw attention to yourself by saying to your child, “Hmmm. . .l’m reaching down into my pockets (or hand bag or backpack, etc) to find a story.” From there, slowly pull out items hiding in there and ask out loud, “How did that get in there? Oh yes, I remember getting that nickel from the change after I bought a coffee. . .” Sabotage your story by pretending that you can’t remember and ask your child how s/he thinks the item got in there. This story conversation should unfold like a back and forth dance between you and your audience. The sillier the better! Even if you literally have nothing in your pocket, take turns imagining all the thing that could fit into your pocket! The goal of stories is language development, imagination, and most importantly building quality social time with your child. Below are a few additional story starters to try with your child.
- Imagine different types of bags (shopping, shoulder bags, purses, backpacks, etc). What would you put in that bag? Where would you go?
- Notice pockets on different pieces of clothing. What would you put in each pocket?
- People watch and take turns guessing what could be inside their pockets or bags.
The Parenting Hub would love to hear from you. Please send your pocket stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org