EveryDay Strong: How traditions can help your child’s mental health
When we think about the holidays, the first thing that comes to mind might be the traditions we have with our families. Similarly, when we think about our childhood, it is likely that some of our most prominent memories are of the traditions we had as a family.
There are many reasons why traditions are important, but the reason they are usually accompanied a strong feeling of comfort is because they can help us feel safe, connected and confident. Meeting these needs for safety, connection and confidence is crucial for building resilience and helping a struggling child.
This holiday season is the perfect time to make safety, connection and confidence a tradition in our homes. Here are three ideas of how we can do that:
1. Create safety through home videos & interviews
It is likely that we all have home videos of us as children during Christmas time. Creating and watching home videos can give us a sense of safety as we reflect on who we’ve become.
The holidays are the perfect time to make home videos for our children to watch as they grow each year. Try interviewing your kids by asking questions about their year. They can be questions like, “What is something hard you’ve done this year?”, or “What is something you’re proud of?”
Asking and recording these questions can help your child know that you care and will create a safe environment for them to share their thoughts and feelings. This sense of safety is essential for a child’s mental well-being.
2. Foster connection through re-creating the Advent calendar
A child who is struggling with mental health needs deeper, more meaningful connections. One idea is to use the excitement that comes with an advent calendar to create more connections with our kids in a simple way.
Instead of candy in the calendar, try putting notes each day telling your child how much you love and appreciate them. If you have multiple children, try making each one specific to that child whose turn it is that day.
While this may seem insignificant, creating connection does not have to be expensive vacations or lavish gifts. It is the small and consistent efforts parents make each day that will build the strongest relationships, and ultimately, resilience.
3. Promote confidence with Elf on a Shelf
Fostering confidence in our children does not have to be daunting. Children simply need to know that they are seen and that someone appreciates them.
Merely stating our confidence in our children is usually enough to strengthen their sense of self-worth.
One way to do this this holiday season is by using your Elf on a Shelf. Instead of moving it to different locations, try moving it to your child’s room with a treat when your child accomplishes something or does something considerate.
Acknowledging their actions in a fun way will not only create lasting memories, but will strengthen your child’s sense of self-worth in substantial ways.
It is important to note that while some of these ideas may only apply to younger children, it is just as, if not more, important to continue traditions with our older children and teenagers. Try adjusting these ideas or coming up with your own traditions that will help your teenager feel safe, connected and confident.
There is a lot of power in creating traditions in the home. It is more than creating memories. It is strengthening the feeling of safety in the home, building connections with one another and past generations and strengthening our child’s sense of self-worth. Meeting these basic needs through traditions can be one way we build resilience in our children, and ultimately help them overcome adversity. ※
Originally published at https://www.heraldextra.com on December 8, 2019.