How it Plays
Start with a simple, traditional story structure, such as one in which a prince or princess must fight a dragon or outsmart a witch. Can you guess who is the prince or princess? Your child, of course. If you have two or more children, why, it's an entire royal family. But your stories don't have to be fanciful; children love it when you turn ordinary, everyday events into exciting narratives complete with familiar characters such as grandparents, baby-sitters, or preschool teachers. All you need is a basic problem or conflictthe day you tried to find the perfect birthday gift for Grandma or the day the big kids were mean to your child on the playgroundand you've got the core of a good tale.
You also can use a story to help your child overcome a particular fear or concern. For example, let's say your child has been reluctant to use the unfamiliar toilet at school. A story in which the "potty fairy" arrives and sprinkles "bravery dust" on the potty might help her turn that particular corner. As for songs, try a spiritual with repetitive words, such as "Kumbaya" or "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," then substitute names of friends and family members. For "Kumbaya," for example, you might sing "Grandpa's laughing" or "Jeremy's sleeping" in place of the traditional verses. For "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," insert names according to the rhythm, as in "He's got Sophie, Beth, and Rosie in his hands..." You'll soon find yourself required to list the entire preschool class!
What You'll Need
A comfortable chair that's big enough to hold the two (or more) of you, and a vivid imagination.
Learning and Growing
By putting your child front and center in her own stories and songs, you build her self-esteem as well as nurture her imagination. You're showing her how closely you follow the events of her life. And dealing with real-life issues in this creative fashion teaches problem-solving skills.