Recently a grandchild asked to hear stories about her dad when he was little. She laughed and giggled as she heard stories of silliness and sass. She sat a little straighter as she heard of his childhood struggles and ways he found strength in his trials.
Children love hearing stories about their past. Family stories can rouse their imaginations and build their creativity. These stories will teach them much more than just fanciful tales. In fact, a researcher at Princeton found that storytelling is the only way to truly plant ideas. Keep reading to learn some other reasons why you should tell family stories to your kids.
Family traditions include a wide variety of things. From family trips to a special place filled with memories, to something as simple as a favorite cookie recipe, each is passed down from generation to generation.
Many family traditions surface around holidays. Adding your own traditions and stories to any holiday takes it to a whole new level for your own family.
For example: Baking your grandmother’s favorite peppernut cookies and serving them at a family gathering gives opportunities to not only enjoy the treat, but also share warm memories and laughter while remembering family members not present. These are experiences that will stay with your loved ones, including your children.
Traditions like this help children better understand their past, connect families, and create strong bonds between generations. Your children are more likely to continue these types of traditions, like baking the cookies, with their own families in the future. Through them, your grandmother's legacy will live on forever.
Sharing stories about the past also teaches children important life lessons, like how to be strong in the face of challenges, how to understand the difference between right and wrong, and what we should do in difficult situations.
You can share tales about times when you (or one of your ancestors) were bullied and how you handled these situations. Then, when your child experiences a similar situation, they will be better able to handle it and draw on the strength of the family's shared experience.
Stories help children learn about love, pain, teamwork, strength, and much more. These important stories help them better understand who they are, and who they can become.
Sharing family stories not only connects children to their family, but also to others around them, and to the world at large.
As children learn about their ancestors, they step outside themselves and see that the world isn't as small as they thought it was. This gives context and sensitivity when talking with friends and others.
When your children have friends with similar traditions and beliefs, they will enjoy singing the same songs and reading the same stories.
Even more importantly, they will learn how to share with those who don't celebrate the same holidays and traditions. Your children will have the background to discuss with their friends why they celebrate the way they do, and will be able to explain why their beliefs are important to them. Because of the rich and varied tales they've learned about their ancestors, your children will know how to respect and learn from others' traditions, too.
Family Stories Teach Communication
When you tell your children stories, they use their imaginations to become immersed in them. For children, it's as if they are living in the events themselves. One minute they are lying in their bed, asking for a bedtime story, and the next they are on a ship traveling across the world, or preparing the family farm for the harvest. Visualizing stories helps children understand new words and concepts.
This comprehension benefit is magnified when your child reads written stories, journals, and other records. All reading builds vocabulary, and reading family stories is even better, as it also provides the many other benefits mentioned in this article.
As you share stories with your children, they learn other crucial communication skills. They learn to tell stories the way you do. When they then relay these stories to their friends or family members, they put in as much energy and charisma as you did.
Children recall significantly more information when you give them a story versus when you simply recite plain facts. You can use this tool to teach your children important values and beliefs. By encompassing your message in a story, you paint a vivid picture of what you are trying to say. It will elicit more emotion from your children and will help them to truly care about what you are trying to teach them.
Children love hearing stories from grandparents and parents. They will cherish those moments and stories for years to come.
Without family stories, we miss out on so much, not least of which are the family connections.
If you want to learn more about how you can better connect with your family, please contact us today.