My three-year-old love to tell stories. Sometimes they are factual, mostly they are completely made up. Those are my favorite. I love to listen to her creative description of the world around her. How she incorporates the dialogue she hears from her parents, to movies and cartoons from the tv or phone, to anything going on in her adorable head. Do I laugh as I am listening? 100% She cracks me up. But I am never laughing at her. I never make fun of her, never tell her she is lying, never fact check her. Is that something we naturally do as adults? Of course. Being mindful of how we speak to our children is so important. We mold and nurture how they see the world. How we present things is how they see the world, but I will go into that in a later blog.
I have seen some parents, unknowingly, slowly kill their child’s creativity. Simply by responded as an adult. By laughing at them, poking fun of them to their friends, “keeping it real” or simply responding to them by stating what they had told is untrue. And I ask myself every time “whyyyyyyyy?” What I have learned from my interaction with my girls, is that, when you really encourage any dialogue whether its about a giant dinosaur who spilled the cheerios all over the floor, or a recount of their day, they really open up like a blossoming flower. You are constantly creating a safe space for them to be themselves. To explore their own mind. Their own imagination. Their own communication style.
If you are worried about entertaining pure fantasy, or even allowing them to blame a fake character for their own mess, here is a suggestion I have found to be quite result driven. If you, for example, hear your child blaming a mistake or error on an “imaginary” character, run with it. Oh I see, so Harry the bunny spilled all that juice huh? (Knowing damn well it was their clumsy ass) Well you tell Harry that momma doesn’t like a mess on her floors. Harry knows better, Harry won’t get into as much trouble if he cleans up his mess.” Again, going to back to another topic of “creating and molding the world around them” If we speak certain terms or processes enough, they will certainly retain it. So use their wonderful imagination to the benefit of both of you. They are already engaged, let the fun turn itself into a learning experience they can digest. I promise you over time you will hear your children telling their baby dolls “mommy doesn’t like a mess on her floors. You know better” LOL these little ones are sponges!! Let them soak up how not to piss you off or F up the house.
Back to the fun, creative, imaginative stories by your little offspring. As they are engaging in their fantastic stories about mythical creatures and magical worlds, use this time to help them build up their speaking and thinking skills. Ask questions. Create questions that spark problem solving skills, focus on details. “Wow, where was the monster going with all those hamburgers? Was he going to share with his sister? Did he walk all night? How did he get up the mountain?” Have fun with them. Forget that it makes no sense. Enjoy the wild journey with them. You are building a safe space for them. You are creating partnerships. You are encouraging dialogue. Building a solid foundation of parent and child. You are being an engaged loving parent!! I would love to hear about some of your childs wild stories!