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Why Creating Meaningful Holiday Traditions with Your Kids is So Important

by Vannessa Rhoades 12 Dec 2023
Why Creating Meaningful Holiday Traditions with Your Kids is So Important

Holidays are a festive, joyous time for many families, especially when children are in the picture. Parents and children mark the occasion in a variety of special ways. Being part of these holiday rituals helps kids grow and develop into loving, imaginative, and thoughtful adults. Whether it’s enjoying fireworks for Diwali, eating lakes during Hannukah, or choosing a Christmas tree together, holiday traditions around the world can help children feel more connected to the event and the special time of year. Let’s take a closer look at how to create meaningful traditions and how these rituals foster their mental and emotional development. 

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Why Creating Holiday Traditions Matters 

Thoughtfully established holiday traditions can promote a child’s mental and emotional development and help connect them to their family. They create lifelong memories that are added upon each year, building bonds and reinforcing secure attachments. Creating meaningful holiday traditions has a number of other developmental benefits for kids.

Provides reassurance and predictability

The holiday season, though joyful, is also a time filled with a lot of extra stimulation for children. The noise, the lights, and a houseful of relatives your child doesn’t see on a regular basis can be a bit overwhelming. For children who thrive on routine and predictability (as many do), family traditions can be a touchstone amidst the chaos for kids and help them anticipate what’s coming next. 

Builds family and cultural connections

Traditions form the structure and foundation of our families and our society. Studies show that cultural appreciation and awareness contribute to building a positive self-image. Developing a strong foundation of belonging and acceptance through cultural education and celebration allows children to build a diverse social network while transitioning into adulthood. When children feel this connection between their family and holiday traditions, they can appreciate the festivities even more.

Fosters their imagination and encourages critical thinking

For very young children, some traditions can be confusing. Many of the traditional holiday rituals, like Santa Claus and the Hanukkah story about the oil lasting eight nights, require children to suspend disbelief and welcome the seemingly impossible. Doing so can actually benefit their mental development and flexible thinking. Traditions that involve fantastical elements can help children begin to understand symbolism, encourage imagination, and promote analogical reasoning. Experts suggest sharing holiday stories with your child, talking about what it represents, and encouraging kids to talk about their thoughts and feelings about it.

One essential aspect of creating meaningful traditions is being respectful toward your child’s feelings and engaging in discussion with them. Have a conversation about your family’s rituals and ask your child their thoughts about it. Help them feel comfortable expressing their feelings. As a caregiver, you are your child’s most trusted source of information about the world and culture around them. Ultimately, holiday traditions should help kids feel more connected and strengthen the meaning of the holiday, whether that’s love, giving, being together, gratitude, or something else.

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Ideas for Creating Meaningful Holiday Traditions

Many families have in America winter holiday traditions that have been passed down from previous generations or that they enjoyed as children. You can also establish your own traditions – there are many ideas! Here are a few family-friendly activities and rituals that will foster your child’s development:

  • Decorating the house
  • Creating and mailing holiday cards
  • Volunteering your time or donating food, toys, or clothing
  • Having an advent calendar
  • Take a family photo
  • Decorating the Christmas tree
  • Lighting the menorah for Hanukkah or the Mishumaa Saba for Kwanzaa
  • Sharing stories of family history
  • Reading a holiday book every night of the season
  • Spending time together outdoors
  • Singing holiday songs together
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Preparing a holiday meal or baking treats together
Why Creating Meaningful Holiday Traditions with Your Kids is So Important

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The Takeaway

Holiday traditions play an important role in helping young children build self-esteem and develop a positive sense of identity. In a season that can be so hectic and overwhelming, establishing meaningful holiday traditions can make your home a haven of warmth and comfort. Your children probably won't remember how many presents they receive during the holidays, but they will remember the traditions and quality time they spent with you and their most cherished friends and family.

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