We know that social and family connections are important for our mental health and wellness. The holidays are a great time to build those connections with your children, family, and friends.
Holiday family traditions are an awesome way to spend time as a family, create positive memories together, and build a sense of family identity and belonging in your child. Your family traditions can also help children feel connected to family members who are no longer around, because they are a great way to tell stories about them while sharing the history of that specific tradition.
You can also create new holiday traditions together. Your child may recognize that they’re an important part of the family and contributing to rituals they’re passionate about for future generations to enjoy.
To help your child gain a deeper sense of purpose and belonging this holiday season:
- Involve your child in holiday preparations. Let them help you bake cookies, hang decorations or set the table for a festive meal. It may take you slightly longer (and your cookies may not be picture perfect), but your child can feel proud of their contributions.
- Explain the meaning behind traditions. Share the history and the reasons why you follow certain traditions. This is especially important for children from diverse ethnic or religious backgrounds. Research has shown that when parents promote cultural pride, children have higher self-esteem, and they identify more strongly with their racial or ethnic identity.
- Talk about longtime family traditions. Has your family been caroling in the neighborhood or having a multi-generational, kitchen-floor dreidel competition for generations? While you’re engaged in time-honored family activities, share some highlights of previous celebrations to help your children feel connections to the past.
- Let your child put their spin on holiday traditions. Maybe that means asking them to choose which Christmas ornaments to hang on the tree, which Hanukkah menorah to light this year or what song to sing during Kwanzaa to express their creativity.
- Adopt new traditions. Did your child request the same New Year’s Eve dinner you served last year? Do you watch the same holiday movies every year? Decide together which of your child’s favorite rituals should become official family traditions. Your child may be more inspired to practice old and new traditions with you.
Remember, while the holidays may feel stressful and busy for some adults, connecting and creating memories with your children is what they will remember.