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When we did the coffee klatches, one of the ideas to increase self-management was to encourage your child to tell stories. Here are some additional ideas from Lory Britain, Ph.D., in her book I’m Happy-Sad Today: Making Sense of Mixed-Together Feelings. Across cultures and throughout history, storytelling connects people and communicates values, traditions, and beliefs. When storytelling is valued, children who hear stories are inspired to tell their own.

Today our children are bombarded with media-driven stories and images. Yet with purpose and intent, we can encourage children to be storytellers and to share stories from their hearts. Places that ensure a positive storytelling experience include bedtime, car rides, sitting under a tree, mealtimes, family gatherings, and a cozy chair. Here are some tips to help inspire storytelling:

• Value real and imaginary stories. Stories from everyday events and from children’s imagination are worthy of being told.

• Use open-ended questions. When encouraging children to begin and expand their stories, ask open-ended questions such as, “What happened after the gate was left open?” or “What did the chickens do after they got out?”

• Honor children’s drawings. Ask them about their pictures with open-ended questions and statements such as, “Tell me about how the girl climbed the hill,” or “What happens after she is on top of the hill?”

• Help children express feelings. Help children express feelings by asking them questions such as, “And how did you feel about _____?” or “What feelings did the dragon have when it _____?”

• Collect story-starter pictures. Keep a file of pictures that will inspire children to tell their own stories about something similar or to begin an imaginary story. Collect pictures of everyday events, such as a child riding a bike, or of common sights, such as a fallen tree. A simple question like, “I wonder how this child learned to ride a bike?” or “What would the tree say to the flower after it fell over?” can get stories started.

• Ask questions about everyday events. Encourage children to share about events and feelings that happen every day. This is also a good memory enhancer.

• Bring in something from nature. Sharing a rock or a leaf or a twig can be a story-starter. Share where and how you found the object and tell a story about how it came to be.

• Introduce story-starter phrases. For example, “If I were a _____, I would _____.” Or introduce a “problem,” such as, “Once there were two children who forgot to pick up their clothes and . . . ” or “What would you do if _____?”

• Share wordless books. Some help children follow the sequence of story development, while others include a series of delightful scenes to encourage imagination.

• Encourage explaining. Children can make a story based around explaining how an object (or even a recipe) is made or how to perform an action such as sweeping or building a block house.

• Imagine talking objects. Imagine that an object such as a piece of furniture or a tricycle can talk. What stories would your dog tell?