Days are FULL for families between work, school, extra curricular activities and household chores– it can feel like we are pulled in many different directions, making it difficult to find quality connection time with our little ones. As parents, it’s important that we find manageable ways to connect with our children on the daily. When kids feel emotionally connected to their parents, they are more confident and happier, they show stronger communications skills and are better able to cooperate and demonstrate fewer negative behaviours.
Family rituals are simple activities that families can do with each other regularly to help establish and maintain a connection with one another. Sometimes as parents we put pressure on ourselves to create these big special day dates, like a weekend baseball game or a trip to the nail salon. Of course, these activities are amazing but there is actually a bigger emotional development benefit to our children by having simple rituals that you do together as part of their daily routine. The consistency of having daily rituals creates predictability for your children, helps them make a regular connection with you and offers a fun activity that your kids will look forward to each day.
Check below for some simple, rewarding family rituals that you can do with your kids through all ages and stages.
Daily Rituals for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Develop a daily ritual for this age group that is playful and encourages autonomy. It can also be helpful to build the ritual around activities your child may not enjoy.
- We all need to brush our teeth each day – why not build a ritual around this daily chore! Each morning play your child’s favourite song while you brush your teeth side by side.
- Incorporate child directed playtime into your kids’ day – maybe it is 10 minutes each day before bath time when you get down on the floor and play following your child’s lead.
- Daycare drop off can be difficult for this age group. Create a drop off ritual with your child – for example, two kisses and a hug or a tight squeeze and a high five – this is fun, special for you and your child and can help prepare them for the transition into someone else’s care.
Daily Rituals for School Age Children
Develop daily rituals for this age group that allow them to be leaders and enhance/showcase the skills they are developing.
- Turn making your morning smoothie into a daily ritual – have your child select the ingredients, press the buttons and guess what colour the smoothie is going to be!
- If your child is a reader have them read a joke of the day or a daily quote each morning on your commute to school. Having a repertoire of jokes is never a bad thing and a daily quote can help stimulate further conversation. Check out 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Precepts By R.J. Palacio, my favourite quote book for school aged kids.
- Do your kids love sports or want to pick out their own clothes each day? Create a daily ritual around their interests by having them check the daily sports scores or the weather forecast and then they can share this information with the rest of the family.
Rituals for the Whole Family
Creating individual rituals with each of your children is important, but it is also valuable to create rituals that the entire family can participate in. These shared experiences don’t have to happen on the daily, but making a point of creating them every so often can help strengthen the bond between siblings and create lasting family memories.
- Play Roses, Thorns and Bud – Go around the table at a meal time and have each person share the best part of their day (rose),the most difficult part of their day (thorn) and something they learned (bud). This game allows your family to check in with one another and have a dialogue about each individuals’ day.
- Family Dance Parties! This is a favourite for my family after dinner – put on your favourite tune and get grooving – mom and dad too!
- Schedule a weekly family game or movie nights. Encourage each family member to rotate selecting the movie or game.