Why Creating Traditions is Important for Children

Every year in December, we invite our families to come in and share their holiday traditions. It is one of my favorite times of the year: the children get so excited about having their parents come in, and they love having something from home brought in to share. We have had parents bring in a special book they read around the holidays (think “Polar Express” or “Frosty the Snowman”), build gingerbread houses or bake a favorite cookie with the children, make dreidels out of clay, or sing special songs that their family shares at this time of year. We even had a family that celebrates Diwali bring in traditional garb and stage a mini-celebration with the children here at school.

Here is why creating these holiday traditions is so important for children:

  • Strengthen a Child’s Source of Identity and self-confidence

Traditions often tell a story about a family. They can teach children where their family came from or help them understand their cultural or religious history. These stories can also be very personal and play a role in shaping a child’s identity. There really is something about knowing that you belong to something bigger than yourself that builds confidence.

  • Build awareness and respect for other cultures

Experiencing traditions that are different from their own helps children learn that different doesn’t have to make them uncomfortable. Seeing that other families celebrate and rejoice in different ways provides children with an opportunity to see that different can be fun and exciting, and it can open their eyes to other peoples’ stories.

  • Build a sense of community

Singing a classmate’s favorite song, or hearing from another child’s parent about a ritual that is important in that family brings the class closer together, creating a tighter-knit feeling of community. It is empowering to share something that is special to you with others and see that it is accepted.

  • Create a sense of comfort and security

Knowing what to expect helps children feel safe. At this time of year, looking forward to their family traditions is part of what makes the season special: it can be anything from waiting for the tree-lighting ceremony to a special visit with family or watching a favorite movie together. From a young age, children derive comfort from this anticipation and from knowing that a special event will happen.

  • Create Lasting Memories

We all like to look at pictures or talk about shared experiences (I was just thinking about that house we stay in sometimes in the summertime at the lake. Or remember how we sit together and sing holiday songs?). Creating traditions also creates lasting memories, which are part of your family’s story. These memories are part of what makes us all unique.

With December upon us, we wish everyone a wonderful holiday season full of family traditions and warm, loving memories.