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Jen

How Stories Help Kids (and Parents) Through Developmental Stages

Posted by Jen on March 3, 2010 at 7:00 AM in Raising Girls
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look at me

When Madeleine was a preschooler, we both dreaded the task of combing out her long wavy hair. I'd tell myself that combed hair was overrated and that such neatness was unnecessary, but eventually--you know how it goes--someone had to make this child look like she actually had a mother. So to entertain her and help her stay still, I made up a story about The Tangles. The Tangles loved to play in Madeleine's hair, but every so often they needed to go home to their mother who lived in our big black brush. Sometimes it was obvious to me (and Madeleine) that the Tangles had been having a party or had been to the circus or had been riding roller coasters all day long. Other times it was clear that the Tangles had no intention of leaving--they were having too much fun--and the Tangles' mother would beg them to come home, so they could do scandalous things like eat ice cream in bed or watch television until morning. Madeleine loved not only to hear this story but to help create it. We told the story of The Tangles for a long time, until she was a much bigger girl and was learning to brush her hair without parental assistance.

I think of this story longingly now as Madeleine--fully capable of brushing her hair perfectly, now leaves the house with hair that I wish I could immediately drive to a salon for a thorough deep shampoo and conditioning treatment. Somehow it never occurred to me to add a rain chapter to the Tangles story, so I could work in the shampoo angle.

But what we do have is this story and this memory, and that gives us both a sweet and powerful place to stand as we deal with whatever challenges that come our way in the future. I'm hopeful about that and wondering what stories we need to share now to help us take on the next development stage of our growing up and learning together as mother and daughter.

Do you have a favorite family story that helps your child come along in the growing up process?

3 Comments

Jenn writes...

I use the same tactic when it's time for the kids to brush their teeth. Our stories are about The Sugar Bugs. :)

GailNHB writes...

When my children were younger, they used to ask me to "tell a story from your mouth" - meaning "make it up right now" - whenever we stopped at a gas station. It made waiting for the gas to fill the tank a time of imagination.

They liked one ongoing saga that I told about the kid who fell asleep on the school bus and woke up long after the other kids had been dropped of at school and discovered that the driver had taken the bus to a local park to go fishing. The child and the bus driver had a great time telling each other stories and catching fish. There were many stories spun off of that story. Going to the gas station became one of their favorite activities.

As for the types of stories that have bonded me with my daughter as she has entered into her teenage years, I often tell her real life stories of what has happened to me in my many travels and studies and share how my experiences parallel some of hers. Recently, I have told her stories of growing up in Brooklyn and memories of snow storms and blizzards and going to school on icy cold days. She and my son both love those tales of life in the big city. Those have been some of our most cherished times together.

Gabbi writes...

My son, Sampson, who is 3, is quite the wiggle worm when we are trying to get him dressed. So, I started telling him stories about a boy named Sam and his best friend Little Bear. Sam and Little Bear happen to be the same age, and do lots of the same things. It (usually) slows him down enough to get some clothes on his little bod, or long enough to shovel some food down.

Sam always says to me "Mom read me the Little Bear story".

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