You have tucked your child to bed after a hard day hoping to enjoy a few minutes of solitude. But then comes the magic line “Tell me a story!” Sound too familiar, right? And if your child is like any others out there – it will be followed up with a second request – “Not from the books, tell me from your mind”. Ok! Now you have to make a good bedtime story for your child when you are utterly exhausted! You rush to your phone for a quick googling in search of an age-appropriate story.
We all have been there. The stories get exhausted, and pretty soon you would need to rely on your skill of making ups stories on the spot. Here are a few things to help you along the way and make sure you never run out of ideas.
Learning how to make a story and deliver it in an interesting way, is an art. Not only during bedtime, making up stories and telling them can get you out of many tricky situations.
- If your child is not eating, tell a story with food in it and they will eat!
- Is your child throwing tantrum? Make an interesting story and all the tantrum reasons will be soon forgotten.
- Is your child bored, waiting in the queue? Tell a story and the time of pass like breeze!
- Want your child to understand a mistake and correct it? Make up a story around it and they will understand!
Not only the situational benefits, Telling or reading stories to your child from a very young age has long term benefits.
Tip: Read here the benefits of reading aloud to babies and children
Unfortunately, more and more parents are outsourcing the storytelling part by giving children a gadget at an early age. Just months old infants are being introduced to screen time. Other than just momentarily engaging the child, electronic devices do not have any benefits the oral storytelling or reading aloud carry.
However, with a little resource, you can really ace the art of whipping up a story at any given moment. Here are some pro tips for you to make the perfect bedtime story for your child.
Look back to your childhood:
Most of us have favourite stories from our childhood. Try to recollect one story, or part of it is also fine. Just make up the rest as you go along. Modify stories based on your child’s age. Replace complex situations with simpler ones. Put an ending that you think your child would enjoy.
Take inspiration from daily news and events:
We come across many inspiring stories in news or in the forums, groups, etc. Pick up one your child would enjoy. Preferably pick up one about bravery, kindness, courage. Change the character, setting, and make it kid-friendly. Leave out political, sad details. Give it a happy ending.
Story of a favourite animal:
Pick up an animal your child likes. Think of the characteristics of that animal. Makes up stories will a lot of animal sound infusing those characteristics as you go along. Encourage your child also to make the sound along with you. Pretty soon the fun part will kick in and the storyline would not matter anymore.
Retell stories about your child’s earlier times:
This one is easier. Retell stories or incidents your child did as a younger one. Infuse colours and make it interesting. Kids love to listen to earlier incidents.
Change names in popular stories:
Pick up a favourite story of your child. Replace the protagonist’s name with your child’s name and retell the story. Keep on telling the story until your child catches up. The toddlers would not easily understand though. You can finish the story. The elder ones would and it will open up a round of discussion.
What is the puppy thinking?
This has been my favourite one. Point to any animal, insect, living being you find in plain sight and goad your child to imagine what it is thinking. Get them started initially with a simple thing like ‘do you think it is hungry?’ Pretty soon your child will start creating a web of imagination around the animal’s world. This never gets old. Thinking and imagination vary depending on the place, the situation you are in. So, you will never run out of ideas.
Stock up on children’s books:
Buy age-appropriate books for your child. They can provide tons of inspiration and come in handy. Here is a list of parent recommendation.
Parents approved books for 5-6 years old
Rhymes to Rescue:
This is an old trick. Take a rhyme. And tell it in the form of stories. You can change the names of the characters. Liberally change other details as you feel like.
Solve a problem:
Try to think up a small problem, make a story around it. Once a reach the problem part, ask your child, how he or she thinks it can be solved. You would be amazed at their out of the box thinking. If your child is struggling with an answer, drop a few hints, and gently guide your child to the solution. This helps in increasing children critical thinking and confidence
Small dose of moral:
We love to tell stories laced with morals. But keep it light and age-appropriate. Heavy dose moral stories may not be appreciated or enjoyed by smaller children
Fill in the blanks:
Start your child’s favourite story. Stop in between just before the twist, critical point, and ask to fill the gap. This helps exercising your child’s memory as well.
Every family has some fun stories. You can pick up a few age-appropriate ones and tell. Something like ‘Do you know what happened when your aunt climbed a tree once?’
Lessons learned and friendship:
Tell stories about your childhood friendships, lessons learned, etc. This is a very good way to make children do correct things.
Free stories of online:
Here are a few free stories for your reference.
Always a happy ending:
Every story needs to have a happy ending. Children need to know that things turn out ok in the end. Especially at bedtime, you want your child to sleep with a smiling face. Be sure to plug in the happy ending, in a not so happy story also. Always!!
Keep it fun and engaging:
For small children, more than the content of the story, the way it is told matters.
The most important part of storytelling is the story teller’s mood. Pace yourself. Tell the stories you enjoy. Your child will catch up pretty soon.
Storytelling is fun. Do not shy away from it. With practice, we all can become closer to perfect (or perfect enough for our child). And who better to practice to, than an ever willing, always forgiving, actively participating bundles of ours! Kids do not judge. They are happy and content with parent’s attention and any chance of discussion. With little thoughts, some practice, storytelling can turn into memorable family time. Go ahead! Make one!