Utilize the Power of Storytelling for Social-Emotional Training

Everyone one loves a story, and children listen to stories much better than a lecture. Stories help children digest and apply concepts when metaphors have been placed in a context that relates to their world. Did you realize that storytelling and use of metaphors is one of the most effective tools that therapists use when helping children overcome emotional and social problems? When you want to help students with an issue such as anxiety, social conflict, poor study habits, disrespect, self-control, or other common childhood concerns, advise them through a story. It doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t have to be a giftedly creative person. In fact, you could ask the students to participate by choosing characters and certain aspects of the setting.

Warning: Older students will likely be turned off or even insulted by a fairytale-like story that does not relate to them. And at times, a story may be an annoying way to drag out a concept that could be more simply conveyed. However, metaphors are usually very effective, and presenting an idea in a case study format may also be effective. For example, consider the prophet Nathan who used a case study (“what would you do if…?”) to confront King David about his murder and adultery. And even when a case study method seems like overkill, the use of metaphor can be effective. For example, the Scriptures uses metaphors such as salt, light, vessels of honor, various animals, shepherding, and many more.

When your goal is to improve students’ affective learning, avoid an opinionated rant and instead teach like the Master Teacher: use a story that makes it practical.