Why Family Rituals Create Confident Kids

Have you ever noticed how young children like to do things the same way day after day? Let’s say you just happened to make a joke at the beginning of lunch one day, so they remind you of the joke every day for the next two weeks. Sound familiar? Or, you cut the crust off of their bread once, so now they MUST have their crust cut off every time.

It can be maddening, but it is also deeply linked to how a young child learns. Repetition is absolutely crucial to learning. So the desire to re-enact daily and weekly rituals is one way that children make sure they’re really “getting it.”

We all have daily and weekly rituals whether they are consciously created or unconsciously enacted. There is a certain way we do things. So this week is all about bringing more mindfulness to the rituals we have and to the ones we’d like to create with our children.

For example, at the beginning of every meal (or snack) I ask my daughter to climb up into her seat by herself and then I buckle her in. At the end of the meal I wipe off her hands and face with a wet cloth and then hand it to her. She proceeds to wipe off the table and then removes her bib and places it on the table. After the table is clean and the bib is off, I unbuckle her and she climbs down.

This is a ritual that is still evolving. But eventually she will set the table with a placemat, dishes, utensils, and a napkin before a meal and she will clean up afterward by placing dishes in a “dirty dish” bin and putting her used napkin in the hamper to be washed.

You might have a ritual around bedtime and/or bath time or even play time. Part of your ritual might involve incantations like when we say “It’s pajama time…Oh yeah!” every night before bed. Or when we sing the “clean up” song when it’s time to pick up our toys. The point is not that we adopt the same rituals, in fact, doing so would probably reduce the value of our family rituals. The point is that there is a certain way that WE in OUR family do things. It’s unique to us. It’s co-created by all of us and it makes us smile when we think about it.

I can still remember a ritual my mom and I used to have before I would go to bed at night. We would play some little games, read some books, and then just before it was lights out we would race to say, “Ready…set…go! Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite, sweet dreams, I love you, I beat you!” It was our own personal before bed tongue twister and we both really enjoyed it. You can tell I really loved it because I STILL remember it all these years later.

By creating and practicing this kind of mindful repetition, you’re giving your child a deep sense of security. Children really love to know what to expect so that they can fully participate in life and learning.

So what are the rituals in your family? Are there any that you’d like to transform? Or add to? Are there some that might be missing that you can create together?

I would love to know about your special rituals and how you practice them. Please share your story with us all! Warm hugs, Shelly

2 comments
yourfriendkira
yourfriendkira

 @awakeshelly Shelly, I love rituals and all the examples you give in this article!  We have rituals around almost all holidays, special places we go to in the summer months, (almost) weekly for Family Meeting and going to bed.  I love getting our kids involved in the creation of some, and seeing where rituals turn up.  Attention to these moments does create confident, connected kids!  And it's nice to have you draw our attention back to them... it's always helpful to revisit our choices! 

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

 Thanks for sharing this@yourfriendkira! I had to laugh when I read your comment and realized I hadn't even mentioned holidays and/or religious rituals. I always love it when you remind me of the things I've left out of my articles. It really does take a village :) Sending you great big hugs!

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