Why Bedtime Stories Are So Powerful
While screens are so readily available to children, there is still nothing more powerful than bedtime stories to end each day. The time spent reading with our children isn't just for them, but it mutually benefits us as caregivers. Instead of reading to your kids, we want to remember we are reading with our kids. Bedtime stories help children and adults decompress and reconnect at night. Let me highlight why bedtime stories should always be part of your child's bedtime routine no matter their age.
Reading together allows children to feel safe & secure
Taking the time for cuddles while listening to their parent's soothing voice is the primary most secure feeling a child can have. Bedtime stories facilitate the precious bond between a parent and child, which in itself is the most powerful predictors of a child's happiness. Let the bedtime stories take your child away to the world of fantasies to remove the pressures felt from the day. Even children as young as elementary school years feel anxiety and pressure to fit in with their classmates or perform well. There's something about bedtime stories which shift the energy to something more calm and positive.
Books help us wind down at the end of the day
After the morning rush to make drop-off times, the day flies by with errands, appointments and work deadlines. Bedtime stories put a stop to the daytime hustle for a moment of calm. When parents lead by example to be still and relax with a book, we are also escaping from the stresses that weigh on our shoulders all day.
By having a set routine with a bath, PJ change, teeth brushing and bedtime stories, we are slowing our gears down. Parents can use these moments to give their children their undivided attention. Try and keep your reading space screen-free to fully engage with their children.
Storytelling builds listening skills and dreams
During storytelling, children are utilizing and developing their active listening skills. You'll hear them join in by asking questions, anticipating the storyline and wondering what-if scenarios. These are all moments that you are creating with your child as they listen intently to your voice. They never stop learning and never stop absorbing.
Books send children's minds into a frenzy of imagination, even as they are drifting off to dreamland. The best part is these books don't interfere with sleep, like screens do. Screens emit blue light which interferes with melatonin production which normally helps us to fall asleep at bedtime.
Bedtime books provide predictability and connection
One of the best ways to prepare a child for sleep is to have a routine that they look forward to. Having bedtime reading as part of this routine is a great way to signal that bedtime is quickly approaching. It's a calming, slow-paced activity which can help make the transition to sleep much smoother. Not only that, but children look forward to exploring old and new books together with their caregiver.
Reading helps us connect
Characters or scenes in a book may make us feel all sorts of feelings yet done so in a safe place. It helps us empathize with the emotions of characters and gives us time to work through the feelings that are unfamiliar to us. This helps children build courage and resilience in their own lives with their peers, without feeling completely overwhelmed.
Reading shouldn't be 100% listening on your child's part. Try to make it interactive
Asking and answering questions are all part of reading and active listening
Ask your child what they anticipate will happen next in the book
Look at the pictures and ask what is going on
Point to the words as you read to help build reading skills
Have your child retell the story to you helps them build courage as a speaker
How to create a reading corner
Collect the books onto a shelf or corner
Add cushions or a chair with enough space for both you and your child
Add a bit of ambient light
Request books as birthday gifts or making trips to the library are great ways to add to your repetoir of books