Most parents know from experience that telling stories can both distract and calm down children. Now there is science to explain how and why stories are so important and powerful.

The right side of our brain processes emotions and autobiographical memories. It is our left side, however, that makes sense of the feelings and recollections that go along with the emotions and memories from the right side. Making sense of and healing from difficult experiences comes about when the left side and the right side work together to narrate life stories.

Parents can help children learn how to get the brain’s left and right sides working together. Children often need help with this especially when they are experiencing strong emotions. During intensely emotional times, parents can help their children use the left side to make sense of what is going on with the emotions of the right side. Children will be better able to put things in order after they can name the right brain’s feelings. After naming the feelings, children are better able to deal with them in a healthy way.

Storytelling allows us to use our brain’s left and right hemispheres together, making it possible for us to understand our experiences, ourselves, and our world. Storytelling is important and powerful!