Why tell fairy tales to children?
Fairy tales have always been a joy for children. However, is it still the case today? Moreover, what are the benefits of stories? Here are nine questions and answers that will make you even more inclined to tell your children.
1. Are tales still as popular with children today?
Certainly ! Even though many children only know them through Walt Disney and its cinematographic adaptations, one has only to see the phenomenal success of the last great tale adapted by the American studios to be convinced : the film The Queen of Snows freely inspired by the story of the Dane Andersen published in 1844 has bordered in France the 5 million spectators in 2013. One can always say that the music, the casting of the actors for the voices, the humor and the modernity of the film explain its success, but one can not evacuate the strength of the main springs of the plot …
2. Let’s go back to the traditional tales, Cinderella, Little Thumb, Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs … why do they work so well with children?
For several reasons. First, they are straightforward stories: they begin with magic words that the child recognizes (once in a distant country), thanks to which the child knows that he is leaving the real world to enter the ” imaginary where everything is possible. The characters of the tales are very typical; the child immediately distinguishes the good and the bad guys for example. Moreover, they always end well …
3. Is it necessary for the child that the tales end well?
Yes, after all the vicissitudes, it reassures the child to hear: they married and had many children or “everything is good that ends well.” It is the triumph of good, of virtue, of evil, of happiness after misfortune. The tale proposes a positive outcome, soothing for the child. This means that he too will be able to go through difficulties in life and to emerge victoriously and grown up. It is a message of hope and confidence; it means that it is worth building.
4. However, why do these stories of fairy tales, princesses, and fairies still speak to the children of today?
Bruno Bettelheim, the famous American psychiatrist, explained it very well in his book Psychoanalysis of Fairy Tales. While entertaining the child, the story illuminates it and fosters the development of its personality. First, the story presents heroes to whom the child can quickly identify because they are small like him Golden buckle and the three bears, the Little Thumb, Little Red Riding Hood, the three little pigs … Often besides, these heroes do not have a real name, but a descriptive term which facilitates identification. Then the little heroes of the tales have the same problems as him!
5. For example?
Through the Little Thumb, the child approaches the child’s strongest fears, separation, and abandonment. This tale that speaks directly to children who do not always feel up to the height for reasons of size or psychology … Snow White makes him perceive the phases of development: the child grows in a world asexual as Snow White in the seven dwarves, waiting for the young and handsome prince who will deliver her. With Cinderella, the rivalry between brothers and sisters is discussed … With Sleeping Beauty, little girls are preparing for the changes that await them … With Donkey Skin, children find the affirmation of the forbidden of incest.
6. However, while awaiting the happy ending, individual tales give life to the little hero of frightening things. Is it necessary to skip certain passages that are too terrifying?
Contrary to what one might think, it is not bad to tell scary stories to children. Because their lives also have moments that worry or frighten them: for example to go to school or on vacation, children must be separated from their parents, and they fear that they will not find them again or not know how to defend themselves … Thanks to the tales, they learn that after a period of anxiety, it is better. Another important element for children: the villains of the stories must be wrong for the gentiles to have excellent reasons to eliminate them or to deceive them. The tale thus has a learning function: it teaches the child to hope even in the face of the worst difficulties he encounters or will meet and which are the image of horrible witches or enormous giants.
7. A child who has a nightmare after a story is serious?
No, on the contrary, it means that the tale crystallized a fear that existed in him and had not been settled. This allows the unconscious to seize and work on it.
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8. So stories help children grow?
Yes, because they nourish the imagination of the child which is very important for him to overcome the psychological difficulties and the questions to which every child is confronted: the jealousy between brothers and sisters or between buddies in the school, in the family, his love for his mom or his dad …
9. Do all children like storytelling?
All children do not like all tales, but all can find in the stories of emotions, fear, joy, shame, anger, hatred, sadness they have already felt. Then, depending on the period of their life and their development, some tales will resonate more with them.