Having family traditions is a great way to provide stability and routine in a child’s life. Traditions are moments that children can look forward to when they’re young and then look back on as adults. “Tradition remains one of the few practices that truly belongs to your family and close friends and allows you to cherish the very valuable memories created with your loved ones over the years,” says Huff Post contributor, Daffnee Cohen.
If you pause for a second and think back to when you were younger, is your favorite memory of a family tradition? It is very possible, that it is.
Traditions are a relatively easy way for parents to provide comfort to their children. If a child knows that they will have balloons on their birthday or a big family get-together at Thanksgiving, that provides a safety-net at a time when they may need it the most. According to the Centers for Disease Control, routines can also improve your child’s behavior and your relationship with your child. It provides them a sense of identity to hold onto, whether parents realize it at the time or not.
Family traditions tell children a personalized story about who they are and what is important to their family. It creates a connection to parents and siblings that help kids feel a sense of belonging. It is extremely important to share that connection to their loved ones, especially in today’s technology driven society. In studies published by the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, respondents who participated in traditions over Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, compared with those who didn’t, felt closer to their families and enjoyed the holidays more. Proving that it is a good way to increase the bond between family—especially siblings!
Families may think that traditions must fall around the holidays, but that is not the case. Some of the most magical memories are those created at random times throughout childhood.
Ten Suggestions for Family Traditions
New Year Traditional Meal
You don’t have to be a southerner to enjoy the annual New Year’s meal of black-eyed peas and collard greens. Kids may not readily like the taste, but as they grow older, the tradition may be something they will look back on and enjoy. If you haven’t heard of the tradition, the black-eyed peas symbolized fortune and good luck for the upcoming year. This may be the only time you get your child excited to eat their greens, because the collard greens represent money! What kid doesn’t want to dream about having extra green in the year to come?
Spring Tradition: May Day
Spring is a beautiful time of year when families can really take advantage of the outdoors. May Day is a fun tradition that normally younger kids take part in. On May 1st, parents can have their kids create a little basket out of anything around the house. For example, you can cut up a shoe box and a paper towel holder, use a little bit of glue and creativity and eventually, you’ll have yourself a beautiful homemade basket! Once the basket is constructed, have your child go outside and pick flowers. Once they’ve gathered a nice little bouquet, have them put the basket on the front porch, ring the doorbell, then go hide! It will be a nice little surprise for siblings, grandparents or parents inside. It’s a sweet tradition that is fun for the whole family.
First Week of Summer: PJ and Movie Day Extravaganza
This is something the kiddos will really look forward to! Parents, if you can set aside an entire day to stay home and relax with the kids, then do it! Make sure to tell them NOT to get up and get dressed in the morning. Insteadm everyone gets up and gathers in the kitchen to make breakfast. After breakfast, everyone meets in the living room with their blankets to watch the latest movie that the whole family has been wanting to watch. Make sure to buy some specialty snacks or a new set of pajamas for the occasion. The kids will LOVE the extra family time and won’t even miss their tablet or cell phone.
Summer Tradition: Hometown Outing
Summer vacations don’t necessarily have to mean an extensive and expensive all-out vacation. Often the best memories can be made in your hometown. If you’re looking for something unique to do with your whole family, you may want to look for ideas on your city’s government homepage. On these local websites you can learn which parks in the area are best to visit. Put together a picnic, pack your favorite board game, and make a day-trip out of it.
Birthday Tradition: Birthday Letters
This is something your child might not appreciate until they get a little older, but it’s a tradition that can be started at any age. Every year on your child’s birthday, you can write them a letter. It can include any and every detail you want to put in it. Every birthday, set aside some special time to read the letter together. After it’s been read, save the letter with the others in a safe place. Then, on their 18th birthday, give the final letter to your child in a keepsake book with all the letters collected throughout the years.
Birthday Tradition: Have a Birthday Theme
Having routine is comforting to a child. A theme doesn’t necessarily have to be an elaborate plan, it can be as simple has having matching paper plates and napkins. Spending the extra effort to make them feel special is an easy way to pass along a tradition that they’ll remember forever.
Back-to-School Tradition: First Day of School Photos
Ready, set, smile! Make sure the kiddos know that the first day of school also means it’s time to smile for the camera. It’s also a great way to make sure the kids are ready to go early enough in the morning. Be sure to print out the photo and put it in a frame. Each year, you can replace the photo from the previous year with the newest year. When they graduate high school (if they are interested) have them take the picture frame with all the photos from the previous years. It’s a great keepsake they are sure to cherish as they get older.
Back-to-School Tradition: Create a time capsule
This is something fun that the kids will look forward to after a long year. On the night before school starts, give your kids a container and have them fill it with a selection of their favorite things from this summer. Include things like a favorite picture, trinket, or toy. Make sure to have them label the items, so they remember why they were special. Have them write themselves a little note that conveys their fears and goals for the upcoming year. Open it as a family on the last day of school.
Thanksgiving Tradition: Baking pies together
There is nothing better than homemade pies on Thanksgiving! Why not break out a family recipe and work on it together. The kids will enjoy eating the pie even more because they know the time and effort it took to bake them. Make sure to split the clean-up duties though.
Christmas Tradition: Picking out the tree & decorating it
For some people, it is a tradition to pick out a real Christmas tree as a family. For others, it’s getting the tree out of the attic and setting it up as a family. Either way, the experience brings families together in the quest to not only find the perfect tree but to make it unique to each home. Whether you prefer a real tree versus an artificial tree, why not turn up the Christmas carols, make some hot chocolate, and let the kiddos be the first ones to put ornaments on the tree. You can make it special by asking each person in your house to pick out their favorite ornament and explain why it’s so important to them. As they grow older, they will see those same ornaments and remember why they are important to everyone.
In our fast-paced, technology-driven world today, feeling run down is an all-too-familiar feeling for both children and adults. Family traditions can be one of the few constants in a child’s life that keeps them looking forward and on the right path. If you think about it, a nice walk down memory lane can have positive benefits for the entire family.
“Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.” – Susan Lieberman, Life Coach and Author of New Traditions.