By Matthew Lewis on September 21, 2017

Most parents tell stories to their kids. But have you ever thought of turning it around and asking them to tell you a story instead?

We’ve found that getting our kids to tell us stories can be just as much fun for them as it is for us to listen. Along the way, they develop new skills, such as some groundwork for public speaking, use of descriptive language, expressing feelings, and so forth. We also get insights into what’s going on in their minds that help us relate to them better.

This isn’t just something to do with kids who are young. For some reason, our modern era seems to regard storytelling as something to do with toddlers. Yet, historically, it’s been a highly admired skill in the adult world as well. Even now, adults who can tell a good story often find it helpful in many contexts, such as in persuasion, sales, evangelism, and simply building relationships.

Of course, our kids are still young, so we sometimes have to give them a little help (especially if they’re feeling a little bashful). One good technique we’ve found is to tell a “sentence story.” This is where we start the story with a set-up sentence, then they continue with another sentence of their own, and so on. We tend to keep our sentences short and general, while our kids tend to use longer (sometimes even run-on) sentences and therefore are still the ones telling the story.

Another technique we use is when they ask us to tell them a story. “What about?” we’ll ask. When they tell us, we ask follow-up questions, and before you know it, they’ve imagined an entire narrative all on their own.

Storytelling is a fantastic pastime, a useful skill, and can be a great family activity. Give it a try if you haven’t already – you might really love the results!