A great way to have fun with your child and get to know him or her on a deeper level is to share activities in which they have a chance to use their creativity! Try creating a story together.
Paper, markers or crayons, a pencil, 10-15 minutes, and both of your imaginations! (You can also use a computer to type the story, but while it makes the recording of the story more efficient, it might detract from the fun of the process.)
Supplies that we parents might want to leave in another room: Our need for perfection, our need for control, any expectation of any outcome – just enjoy the process!
Get started: Ask your child what story he has in his head that he has been waiting to tell. Of course, the answer will vary greatly from child to child and if you ask the same child the same question 10 times in a day you are likely to get 10 different answers!
If the child is older, invite her to write the story in her own hand while you participate and listen. For younger children, ask them to recite the story to you verbally while you commit it to paper. Either way, ask your child to include you in the creative process.
When my daughter and I do this activity we write a few sentences on each piece of paper, we draw pictures below the words that illustrate the story and then at the end we staple the pages together to form a book - complete with a title page with her name as the author/illustrator. She gains a wonderful sense of accomplishment in having a finished product.
If your child gets stuck on a part of the story ask questions to help him flesh that part out. I try to do as little directing of the story as possible, allowing her to truly have ownership of the end result. If things don't make sense to you, it is okay! Remember the point is not the end result of a complete story which makes sense; the point is more about the time together and learning from, and about, each other.
Our last story had a combination of princesses, knights, monsters and rainbows. While as we wrote the story I felt it was scarier than I would choose, I let go of my need to control it and let it unfold as she chose. In the end I was pleasantly surprised to see all the strife she put into it was resolved with love, kindness and peace. So in the end I learned about the way she processes her fears, how she overcomes conflict within, how she maintains her own inner feeling of safety, and in effect, I learned more about how much love she has to share with the world.
This is a great bonding activity for many reasons: not only will your child feel treasured from the time spent together, you will also learn about the world existing inside the mind and heart of your child, you will also teach your child to embrace his or her creativity, to think outside the box, and to follow a thought through to a conclusion including a finished product; all while having fun together and creating a beautiful memory!
I hope you enjoy this story writing activity; I would love to hear from you about your shared experiences and the stories you create together. firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally printed in Nurture: Australia’s Natural Parenting Magazine, (2013). All Rights Reserved.