4. Create your own rituals. Think about both formal and informal experiences as you begin to invent rituals for your children. A regular Saturday afternoon walk in nature can communicate significant values to children about the beauty of nature and the importance of physical exercise. A bedtime ritual of telling the “story of your day” can help children establish self-reflection, memory and communication skills as well as teaching them that families are the place you can talk about your experiences. A Wednesday evening “house cleaning event,” can teach children the value of team work and responsibility, as well as the skills of maintaining a home.
Next page: Keeping rituals appropriate for your family
5. Make your rituals developmentally appropriate. For a one year old, rituals should involve simple, everyday, predictable events that can be reinforced through repetition. Things such as good-byes, diaper changes and bedtime routines can all be rich opportunities to create simple rituals with your child. Walking out the front porch to wave good-bye and blow kisses to Mama as she walks to the bus stop creates a significant ritual for a young child that can help him manage his feelings around a daily good-bye.
Include a diversity of rituals in your life. Some of these will be planned, and some will arise spontaneously in the context of family life. Rituals can be as simple as lighting a candle before dinner or as complicated as orchestrating a big Thanksgiving dinner every year. Some rituals will remain steady, others will evolve and still others will fade and new ones will bloom. See what works in your family, and try to approach your rituals flexibly as your family grows and matures.