Rituals they’ll carry with them into adulthood
There are certain defining moments in childhood that set a precedence for how we behave later on in life. Having a routine is important from a very young age, as is learning good manners and habits. And then there are certain traditions (celebratory as well as household-related) that give children a sense of belonging and become something that they carry with them throughout their lives. It is all of these facets of growing up that pave the way for the future.
Routines are imperative. A routine gives children a sense of normalcy; they know what to expect as well as what is expected of them. Routines should be integrated into activities throughout the day, and there should be a routine for getting ready for school/daycare, for bedtime, and for preparing weekly activities such as sports or church. Create a timetable for these activities and diligently stick to it for a few days. For example, maybe the lead up to bedtime can be quiet TV time from 6:30 to 7, a bath from 7 to 7:15, followed by teeth-brushing, a bedtime story, and in bed by 7:45. Within no time these routines will be second nature.Older kids may benefit from having a calendar in a common place of the home, such as the kitchen, where they can always see what’s on the agenda for the week and write in their own appointments.
Teach good habits
A simple good habit can have a major long-term effect. Teaching a child basic manners, such as saying “please” and “thank you,” can demonstrate to them respect for others. Learning to say “excuse me” if you want to interrupt someone, or how to politely answer the phone or greet people, are all important skills. Good habits also include good hygiene practices, like washing your face before school, washing hands after playtime, etc. All of these basic “rituals” will give a little one respect for themselves… and for those around them, too.
Demonstrate good habits yourself because, after all, children turn to you for cues. Explain why these habits are important to both you and your child. Practice these habits until they become effortless, everyday rituals.
Traditions tend to bring a family together, and give children a sense of comfort and security. They help a family create their identity, and traditions become the things of which memories are made. It can be as simple as Friday movie and make-your-own-pizza nights, or Saturday morning pancake breakfasts. Or as elaborate as birthday scavenger hunts or big Thanksgiving dinners. If you’re a religious family, make it a regular event to attend service together. Again, sit down and discuss these traditions with your kids (perhaps share with them why you enjoyed such traditions yourself as a child), and let them ask questions (especially when it comes to religious pastimes). And ask for their feedback on tweaking such traditions to make them your own.
Routines, habits, and traditions are what define us as people, and this should begin at a very early age. Teaching with a gentle hand, incorporating things that you yourself learned as a child, and guiding a child through each process is what helps to build up their identity, confidence, and security.