5 Ways Storytelling Can Help Your Family Bond

Storytelling parents are found to have more of an emotional connection with their children. Mighty Mommy has five tips to bring your family closer through the art of storytelling.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #361

Tip #3:  Make It Interactive

A great way to start your story is by simply asking your children, "What do you want your story to be about?" From the very first question, you've gotten them involved in the story. On the other hand, don’t be surprised if this question stumps them and they flounder and say “I don’t know.” When that happens, ask someone to rattle off the first thought that comes to mind. For example, a few weeks ago my youngest daughter couldn’t find a single idea to suggest, so I asked her to name the first animal that came to mind.  She immediately shouted out “Gansett,” her pet bunny of the past year.

My mind started whirring with all things bunny related—carrots, floppy ears, Easter eggs, grazing in lush, green meadows. I decided we’d make the story a collaborative effort so I started with the first sentence.  “Once upon a time there was a fuzzy, brown bunny named Gansett that lived in Annie Butler’s 4th grade classroom. The kids in her classroom were crazy about Gansett except for one kid in the class. Her name was _______, and the reason she didn’t like Annie’s bunny was__________.  This creates a “back and forth” between you and your child, and by the time the story is done, you will both be engaged and laughing. This only goes on for about 10 to 15 minutes but the lasting effect of sharing this time will create lifelong memories for you and your kids.

Tip #4:  Learn From the Professionals

If you want to become better at something, learn from the masters! One great resource for storyteller wannabes is your local library. Check out what’s on tap at your favorite library, and you will probably find several storytelling presentations that you can attend with your kids. Pay close attention to their expression, delivery, and body language.  Even if you pick up one or two small tips to incorporate into your storytelling, you will be able to expand on the quality moments you spend bonding with your child through the magic of storytelling. See Also:  10 Ways the Library Can Help Your Family

Tip #5:  Once Upon a Photo

One of my favorite ways to start a story is to use one of our family photo albums.  Even if you don’t have an organized album or scrapbook, grab a few random photos of your family, or select them from your smart phone, and get started. Show your child the photo and either reminisce about that time the photo was taken or come up with a completely new adventure using your child and the setting from the photo as the main theme. So, if you have a recent photo from the holiday season that has just passed, you could create a fantasy story similar to The Polar Express or A Christmas Carol by using your own family members and interjecting a new spin on the adventure.  “The snow was falling quickly and, within a few short hours, it was piled halfway up our front door.  The wind was howling and, before long, all the electricity went out.  We all cuddled by the fireplace in our cozy pajamas when all of a sudden there was a knock at the front door.  We weren’t expecting anyone this late at night, so we looked at daddy to see what he was going to do. He slowly got up from his comfy chair where he was holding a large bowl of buttery popcorn that all of us were eating and slowly went to answer the door. Before he could put his hand on the knob the entire house began to shake and the sound of a train whistle got louder and louder.”   

You take it from here! Once you start delivering a few details, your own imagination will go wild and before you know it, you’ll be completely immersed in an exciting tale that you’ve crafted for your kids, all stemming from looking at one or two family photos. The creative possibilities are endless!  See Also:  8 Ways to Be Present with Your Kids

What fun ways have you incorporated story telling into your family’s life?  Share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.

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All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.