YWCA New Britain

The Importance of Rituals and Traditions With Children

By Michele Eathorne

Life today is so fast-paced and demanding, it’s important that we find ways to reconnect with each other on a daily basis. Establishing family traditions helps us do just that. Traditions are those special times that bring families together, allowing us to express unity as a family and to create bonds and memories that last a lifetime. The wonderful thing about every family unit is that they are unique unto themselves; the traditions created by each family are sure to be unique and special to the whole family unit, as well as, to each of its members individually!

Historically, rituals and traditions have been important to every culture, within all families.  They are the glue that connects families every day and helps them through challenging times.  Most importantly, they are shared memories that you carry with you into adulthood.  Maybe it’s a favorite dish that’s prepared for a special occasion or holiday.  My father, of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, would make nut rolls from a family recipe, every Christmas.  One of my favorite memories of him now is baking with him in the kitchen.  When you think back to your childhood memories with your families, it’s those rituals and traditions that are central.

“Rituals and traditions assist children in times of stress, unite and connect people, create memories that last into adulthood, strengthen the bonds of a school, and build a strong community.” (Howell, Jacky and Reinhard, Kimberly)

In an early childhood setting, rituals and traditions in the classroom or as a program build community, creating a safe, warm and secure environment where children are able to learn and grow, make social connections, and learn together.  The children have a sense of pride and ownership in their classroom and school life.  Feeding the fish, singing the morning greeting song, having classroom jobs assigned, are everyday rituals.  Spring and Autumn fieldtrips, Read Across America, Week of the Young Child celebrations and Hat Parade are annual traditions we celebrate. 

So I thought it would be fun for you all to share a ritual or tradition that your own family enjoys or one that you enjoyed as a child.  They don’t have to be extravagant, cost money or require a lot of planning.  It could be as simple as sitting on opposite sides of the couch, alone or with someone, on a snowy day with a warm cup of tea and a good book, like I do with my daughter even now that she is an adult.

 I thought by sharing, you may want to adopt or create a new ritual or tradition from one shared…so, what is your favorite family ritual or tradition? 

Build traditions of family vacations, trips and outings.  These memories will never be forgotten by your children. Ezra Taft Benson