As humans, and especially as parents, teachers, staff and community members of Waldorf, we are all familiar with the power of storytelling. Well told stories are captivating, bringing listeners on a journey through the mind and through many emotions. We can be brought to tears, made to laugh out loud, or filled with joy and excitement. We may be brought to question the world as it is or how we believe it should be. There’s truly no substitute for the feeling of being immersed in a great piece of literature or a compelling story told out loud.
This power of storytelling can be used in countless ways: to ground ourselves, to learn about the world and its people, to share our own stories, to persuade others, or for pure entertainment. Some cultures and pedagogies even use storytelling as a form of discipline. A recent article from NPR explores “How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger”. It turns out, rather than yelling or putting children in a timeout, these parents use storytelling and play to teach children life lessons, cultural values, and emotional regulation. Through storytelling, adults can encourage children to learn from their own experiences.
Similarly, a key part of Boulder Valley Waldorf School philosophy is to promote an environment of mutual respect and support through discipline that aims to awaken and educate rather than punish. That way, moral values are internalized rather than imposed. According to the NPR article, Clinical psychologist and author Laura Markham suggests two things to keep in mind when using storytelling and play as a form of discipline. The first is to keep the child engaged and ask them lots of questions. The second is to keep it fun!
Happy storytelling, y’all!
Doucleff, Michaeleen, and Jane Greenhalgh. “How Inuit Parents Teach Kids to Control Their Anger.”
NPR, 13 Mar. 2019, www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/03/13/685533353/
a-playful-way-to-teach-kids-to-control-their-anger. Accessed 22 Mar. 2019.