Stories are so important to tell children
They are a way to get to their little hearts, down on their level. When trying to get to the hearts of my children in their disobedience, I try to use stories to capture their hearts. All analogies break down at some point, so obviously these can’t be pushed too far, but here are some examples of stories I’ve used with my own kids. My literary talents are obviously quite limited considering these are the best examples I can come up with, but hopefully they will give you ideas for (better) stories you can create for your own children:
My son loves puppies. He was also enjoying holding grudges against his sister. So one day, I told him this story:
Pretend you find an adorable, little puppy. He’s cuddly and cute, and you spend all your time taking care of him. You have so much fun playing with your new puppy. But you don’t notice in your excitement that your puppy is growing up very quickly. He nips at you one day, but you think it was an accident because your precious little puppy would never hurt you. You still let him sleep in your bed as he gets bigger because, well, now he’s too big to move! Pretty soon, you’re sleeping on the floor, and the puppy has taken over your bed. One day, you wake up to your “puppy” growling at you, teeth bared, and you realize that your puppy has grown into a big, bad wolf-dog that wants to eat you!
Sin is like that. Sin starts out feeling good, like holding a grudge. We want to hold on to it and pet it and keep it and not let it go. But sin is always dangerous. It pretends to be a cute little pup so you will take it home with you and spend time with it. Sin is always destructive, and it will always eventually become a wild animal that wants to kill you.
We talk about this a lot when the kids are wanting to tell lies: a sin puppy is trying to make itself at home in your heart – are you going to welcome it? We have also talked about how confession is the way to get rid of the sin puppies before they get big.
One of my daughters decided that spitting at her brother was a good way to resolve conflict. She would never do it in front of me, so it was always her word against his and I couldn’t invoke a consequence without being sure she was at fault in that particular situation. I needed a way to get to her heart on the matter:
There once lived a pretty princess named Marigold. She had all the most beautiful dresses and royal hairdressers and always looked enchanting. One day, she had the chance to perform in a royal ballet. Marigold was in her lovely recital dress and she looked stunning. BUT when a handsome prince came on stage to be her dance partner, Marigold stunned everyone by spitting in his face! Her father, the king, was furious, and immediately had her escorted off stage. He replaced her with a little servant girl name Penelope who had been sewing recital dresses backstage. Penelope was wearing an old dress, her hair was pulled back in a simple ponytail, and she was rather plain-looking. But Penelope smiled at the prince and was kind and danced so gracefully that everyone was thrilled with the performance. Penelope was glowing and the prince was happy to have had such a lovely dance partner. Now, which girl was the truly beautiful one? Which girl would you want to be friends with?
In both cases, these stories were far more helpful to my children than any of the reasoning I had tried with them prior to the stories. I should have known that puppies and princesses would be the way to my children’s hearts! ☺
For more on this topic (and many others!), see Rachel Jankovic’s excellent book, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches