EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF BEDTIME STORIES
Recent research demonstrates how important it is for children to feel loved. Study after study shows that children who feel loved will become emotionally and physically healthy adults. Children who feel loved are better able to trust, feel more secure in relationships, and have a greater sense of confidence and inner peace. They are more likely to be achievers and report happiness and satisfaction in life.
A study of preschoolers done by Washington University in St. Louis found that the love and nurture of the parents is the single most important function in developing the minds of children. This emotional security has long lasting effects.
Consider what happens as parents and children share bedtime stories. First, note the warm, gentle physical contact that often accompanies sharing a story. In this high tech world filled with cold and impersonal gadgets of every kind, touch is all the more important. There is a strong body of research that demonstrates the positive influence of touch on child development. Touch deprived children can have hormonal deficiencies and social bonding problems. Lack of touch can stunt growth and even has a connection with cardiovascular disease. Children who enjoy regular, wholesome, loving contact, such as what happens as a story is shared at bedtime, have improved mental and emotional development as compared with their peers. Touch and physical closeness communicates love, and love is transforming.
Second, as we share bedtime stories with children, we are giving them our undivided attention. This fact alone communicates value and love to the child. He or she is important, valued, and loved. Mom or dad give what no other person can, their attention. Dads must be a part of the process. Boys who share bedtime stories with their dads significantly outperform their peers in reading and this gap lasts for years.
AFFIRMATION & AFFECTION
A third thing that happens as we share stories with children is the conveying of affirmation. Interacting with children as you share the story provides ample opportunities to learn of a child’s thoughts, dreams, hopes, and wishes. This kind of sharing not only deepens the parent-child bond, but conveys an affirmation of love that is emotionally important to a child’s sense of self. A shared hug, a touch, a sharing of prayers, all can communicate loving affirmation.
“Where Do Belly Buttons Come From?”, (CrossBooks 2013) by Jeffery Warren Scott
makes a great bedtime story to share!