Everyone has a story – and kids love hearing these family tales. Funny mishaps when they were younger (they love being the star character), how their parents met, the naughty things you got up to at their age and what you did in the ‘olden days’, these are the stories your children never tire of hearing.
So why do children enjoy the telling – and retelling – of these stories so much?
“Children are naturally self centred so any story featuring themselves will have an extra attraction. Hearing about family members being younger and getting into adventures, or living at a time when things were different can stir the imagination and the contrast between the grown up and the story of the child can amaze and surprise,” says psychologist and parenting expert Claire Halsey.
Paul Jackson, director of the Society for Storytelling agrees: “Personal stories are very powerful and can pull families together. The listener has a personal connection to these reminiscences. Even just asking ‘do you remember when?’ can trigger images and memories and a deep emotional response.”
But these familiar stories are also important in your child’s development and their sense of self. There have been psychological studies that show the more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believe their families function. In one study children were asked questions including: Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mum and dad went to school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?. This “Do You Know?” scale of 20 questions turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.
“Our identity is strongly tied to our family and its history; not only…