Behind every child’s behaviour, there is a story. Parents out there are always trying to find a good ending, especially for those Urgghhh… feelings displayed through their children’s unsightly behaviours. You know, those mischievous acts that made you want to pull your hair out or how about those times when you had to play referee in those intense sibling arguments. Oh, don’t get started on those crocodile tears, surely you can tell the real from the fake by now.
Believe it or not, your child is trying to communicate with you through their behaviour. But why must they act out instead of talking about how they feel?
Talking about behaviours can be rough for little ones. Despite their age, vocabulary always comes in the way when talking about their feelings. So, when it boils down to them talking about why they behave the way they do, you will find yourself leading the discussion while your kids give out those unsolved responses like “Yes...Mom”, “Oookay, Mom” worst when it’s “Maybe…”. Then it will lead you to guessing your child’s behaviour, assuming potential causes.
How can we solve this mystery?
Parents need to find avenues to enable behaviour communication to take place. The best way to get our kids to open up is to tell them stories.
Storytelling is an oral tradition that has existed long before recorded history and has been used by our elders until today to advance methods for us to manoeuvre socially. Your parents have imparted valuable lessons and values through stories too, in some ways or another. We are sure of it. What’s even more convincing is the scientific explanation behind it!
When we hear a story that resonates with us, our “feel good” hormone called oxytocin increases. It boosts our feelings of things like trust, compassion, and empathy. It motivates us to work with others and positively influences our social behaviour.
Moms and Dads, when you tell bedtime stories to your children what are some of the things that you noticed. Does your child relate to an experience that is similar to the story or try to connect the story to a subject that they have recently learned? Are they more expressive in their emotions? Children respond to stories easily because they cultivate emotion and a sense of togetherness — a connection. Post storytelling, teach them the words to verbalize those emotions.
Among the questions that you can ask your kids are:
How do you feel about the main character of the story?
If you were the main character, how would you act or respond to the situation?
What values did you learn from the story?
Learning to analyze emotions would make them better at verbalizing them in the future. So instead of throwing a fit on the floor, they will let you know how they feel instead. And you’d be able to develop empathy in your children aiding them in creating a sense of understanding about their world.
Stories make kids feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves
Stories that you share can help shape your children’s mind and how they perceive their world. Being a kid there are still so many things that don't make sense to them especially how they could get their parents so riled up over their actions.
Find social stories that highlight the behaviour that you wish to correct as well as those that emphasize family roles to educate your children on their role as well as yours in the household. When your kids are aware of how important their role is to the family and how much their contribution matters, they will feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves. It is a discovery that will predispose children to manage themselves better, shaping their identity and sense of self.
We share the same stories, you and I
Tell a story from your life that illustrates how you deal with challenges similar to what your child is going through. Sharing a personal experience would get them talking about their behaviour unknowingly. The commonality found in the story would encourage your child to share theirs. Allowing you to be in their shoes would let you understand your child better.
It fosters a deeper emotional connection and provides a common ground between you and your child. The commonality that you share with your child helps them see how their behaviour can hinder them from doing other positive things for themselves and others. It also opens your eyes to understanding them ridding yourself from preconceived judgements. A win-win, I learn from you and you learn something from me too!
Imaginary stories that tell a lesson can be another conversation starter.
Time to get creative with storytelling!
We love Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour by Susan Perrow. The book is filled with lively anecdotes from parents and teachers who have discovered how the power of stories helped them resolve the range of common childhood behaviours and situations like separation anxiety, bullying, sibling rivalry, nightmares and grieving.
When it comes to creating stories, the first thing that you must decide on is what lesson that you would like to impart or the behaviour that you would like to correct in your child. The story that you create must be relatable and impactful enough to drive change. Getting your child to be involved in the story encourages a healthy discussion on behaviour. Deciding on how the characters should behave when met with an obstacle or encounters a social problem gets them thinking about the action, considering new ideas and in turn get them reflecting on their conduct. This is an awesome way to get children comfortable to talk about their feelings be it the Awhhhss… or the Urgghhhs...The authenticity of a story will not only capture the children but will get them empathising with the character. That’s how you reel them in!
The latest audiobook illustrated by Me Books Creations captures the very essence of the concept where imaginary stories get to be shared and created creatively to talk about behaviour. Mommy and Daddy Know Best is a wordless interactive audiobook that opens the channel for behaviour communication where moms and dads could get their kids talking about their antics and misconducts.
Without any words, it is easy to make the stories as their own. What is most significant are the images themselves. The cheeky or naughty things that you see in the book happens to be the most common thing that most children do, ask any parent out there.
You turned out great as a result of the stories that you heard as a child. Why not offer the same token to your child. You will be able to witness them unlocking their greatest potential. For at the end of the day, behind every child’s behaviour there’s a story, and that story is a message of love.