To make this bedtime tip really work – enjoy the story! It’s the gateway to sleep.
Routines keep us grounded; sowing the seeds for the future we want to reap for ourselves and the children in our care. You’ve timed the elimination of caffeine and electronic stimulations, incorporated some healthy movement, and had a wholesome dinner, bath and toothbrush time – setting the stage for a good night’s sleep.
…don’t forget the story!
Stories are not only key for the transition to sleep, they are nutrition for our cognition, self esteem, and family relationships.
Storytelling and Literacy
The earlier a child is exposed to reading as a regular, pleasurable activity, the more likely the child will grow to value reading and make it a personal choice. Sharing a bedtime story models reading as something that is valued by the family – parents and caregivers truly are children’s first teachers. Story structure and pattern, vocabulary and other language building blocks are a few of the positive effects this routine has on a child’s formation. Some parents stop reading to their children when they become independent readers, around ages 7 or 8, but it is recommended that caregivers continue to read with and to children.
Storytelling and Relationships
Have you ever heard a child say “No thanks” when it came to sharing a story at bedtime?
If you have, please post a comment below! In my experience of caring for children even the most oppositional child surrenders to the promise of a bedtime story. There’s the snuggling up, the joy of engaging with another person, and the activation of the child’s imagination. In addition to developing creativity and imagination, stories –whether from books or from memory – develop emotional intelligence, personal values, memory, and concentration.
While the time fathers spend with their children has increased since the 1970s, and family time has increased overall there is still a disparity when it comes to how that time is spent: it is mostly helping children with homework. Routinely reading and telling stories together is a pleasure, nurturing a more well-rounded child and strengthening family relationships.
Time Away from Media
The average child in the United States is exposed to over 4 hours a day of media – and for many, that time is unsupervised. Advertising directed towards children under 12 years of age is over 15 billion dollars a year.
Commercial Free Childhood’s home page identifies the problems that arise from looking at the next generation as consumers – and only consumers. Many of the sitcoms geared towards this vulnerable age group have plots that revolve around how stupid adults can be with the needs of the child protagonists getting satisfied immediately.
Given that, reading a book or telling about a real family incident – even with adults making silly decisions – is an opportunity to develop relationships as well as encourage a child’s inner “maker” and “creator”. And consider that these kind of narratives also develop the child’s inner “discriminator” – the ability to distinguish between what real relationships are made of. Adults aren’t stupid all the time.
Probably the number 1 reason to read or tell a bedtime story to a child – it feels good.
Sleepytime Club is all about creating simple, successful bedtime routines and habits. According to Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit, there are three steps in creating a new habit. The third step is reward yourself. I would wager time spent sharing stories with someone you love trigger all sorts of feel-good hormones. Bedtime story time is its own reward.
What story will you share tonight? Will it be from a book or from your own memory? To help you get started, download my version of The Three Little Pigs with a coloring page.
How does it compare to how you remember the story? How would you change it?
Please share below.
Download The Three Little Pigs here: