Another important element of traditions is doing the same event over and over. Repetition is the greatest learning tool for a child. This is easy to prove. What child doesn't know every word of the Barney song? Why do they all know it? Because they have heard it over and over and over again. Ritual recreates an action and a message in the mind of your child over and over again. Children love repetition; it gives a sense of security to their lives that will translate into well-adjusted, confident adults.
Traditions and rituals are not just for the holidays. Take a look at the things you do everyday. Even the simplest household chore can become a tradition. It might be playing basketball with dirty laundry as you sort colors and whites. Or slipping notes into a lunchbox. My children and I sing a silly song every time someone in the house wakes up grumpy. It's part of the rituals we're building together. Perhaps one day they will tell their children how ridiculous I looked dancing around in my pajamas just to make them laugh. I certainly hope so, and thinking about it makes me smile.
Easy Ways to Create Tradition in Your Child's Life
- Select an activity you enjoy doing with your child. It might be as simple as going to the park on a windy day or reading a beloved story before bedtime.
- Add a special spin to it to give it more meaning. The visit to the park on a windy day becomes a leaf gathering expedition in which you collect fallen leaves and then take them home to assemble a fall centerpiece for your dinner table.
- Invite a family member to share in an event you do regularly, to make the event more special for your child.
- Capture the moment on film, in writing, or through stories. Retelling the stories of you and your child picking out last year's pumpkin makes a great bedtime story and lets them relive the experience.
- Don't forget—ritual means repetition. Share your special moments regularly, i.e., seasonally, annually, monthly.
Family Tradition Storybook
(An Easy Memory Maker for Your Child)
- Take multiple pictures of you and your child participating in a family ritual or tradition i.e., picking out a pumpkin, taking a trip to Grandma's house, decorating the tree.
- Glue each picture to the top half of a piece of colored paper; you may want to use "archival" paper to best preserve your memories.
- Let your child tell you what is happening in the picture as you write the words below the picture.
- Create a title for your storybook and use a piece of colored paper to create a book cover.
- Take your pages to any office supply store or copy center and have them laminated and bound together.
- Enjoy reliving your traditions each time you read your book.
* This storybook starring your child also makes a great gift for family members.