Stories live in us, they become us. When we think about our favorite books as children there is a part of us that wants to both claim that story as our favorite and share it with others. The stories that we hold so dear and carry within us also shape us. It could be as lighthearted as aligning with your favorite house in Harry Potter (is anyone not in Gryffindor?) to something much deeper, an archetype of a prince or princess, and a happy ending from a fairytale.
Steiner recommended we tell age-appropriate fairytales to children to feed their soul with images that they can aspire to and that will guide them as they encounter life. For children under the age of 7 pictures from stories are the only way they can truly understand the world. They are literally thinking in images and not in concepts.
Imagine you have a four year old who is always walking in and taking things from an older sibling’s room. You could try telling them that it is an invasion of privacy and that this makes the older sibling not feel very nice.
You could read them the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. Then say in a jolly voice, “don’t be a Goldilocks and go into your brother’s room.” The small child now has an image to draw a deep understanding from, especially in the context of social realms. Stories are powerful, fun and effective in shaping our lives. They speak to the soul.
When dealing with the inevitable challenges that we encounter raising children it makes sense to use stories to support them (and save ourselves from constantly repeating requests!).
“Healing Stories For Challenging Behaviour”, By Susan Perrow is a treasured Waldorf Teacher Resource for this reason. In her life’s work Susan has supported many children and parents with stories to successfully transform: nightmares, bedwetting, trauma, disrespectful attitudes, whinging, pinching, biting grief, teasing, being disruptive and so many more!
The stories in Susan`s Perrow book are tried and tested magic and incredibly inspirational and easy to work with. If the story that you need is not in there, she has also offered the tools so you can easily write your own story.
A very brief overview, you need:
A metaphor: A wild horse.
A journey: The wild pony has no friends.
A resolution: A magic brush is found and the wild pony loves to calmly groomed. He makes friends with the little boy who grooms him.
Animals work best for small children and if they say, “hey this is like me” you can smile and leave them to ponder that.
Here are a few more tips to help you with creating your own stories by HARSHITA MAKVANA:
- Understand the listener: The first and foremost step is to understand your audience: knowing what they want will help you create and narrate a compelling story. So ask yourself what your child likes: superheroes, prince and princesses, aliens or historical figures?
- Construct your message: The next step is to define a message that you want to convey through your story. What should the children take away from the story? Is there anything specific you want them to learn from this story? Build your stories based on these questions.
- Include creative words: The usage of innovative and impressive vocabulary works best when you are narrating a story to children. But limit the usage of words that are difficult to comprehend for a child.
- Expressive style: Keep the listeners enamored by telling the story eloquently and dramatically. Be energetic, get emotional and go with the flow. Create a thrilling experience filled with suspenseful and surprising incidents if the story warrants it.
- Timing: The importance of timing in storytelling and the effect it can have on the children cannot be stressed enough. Whether it is a campfire story, bedtime story, or just a humorous one to narrate on a rainy day, it has to be appropriate and suitable for the mood and time of the day.
As parents and teachers we have a deep sense of what our children need and the lessons needed to guide them towards success. By communicating this in their language of images we can impart the wisdom, joy and love from our soul to theirs