As a teacher of young children I devote a significant amount of time at the beginning of the school year establishing classroom culture and traditions. As a parent I tried to do the same. In the classroom it creates a sense of security, belonging, comfort and expectation. In families it does the same. The problem these days is that so many children are being brought up by parents who are just struggling to care for themselves or who may be too stressed to focus on anything but just surviving the day. They send children to school who are lost, struggle to connect, won’t participate and don’t know how to treat others. More and more children come to school not ready to be part of a classroom. But there is hope.
Family culture is easy to create but it requires thought. You need to think about what you want your children to remember when they grow up. It can be created with nothing more than words and time well spent. When your children go out into the world you want them to say to themselves ‘THIS is what my family does’…. Maybe it is something silly like blow raspberries onto your cheek instead of a kiss goodnight or something more serious like sweeping the porch every Sunday. It doesn’t need to cost a penny.
Here are some ideas to help create a family culture:
~Tuck you children into bed each night.
~Read them a bedtime story.
~Learn a lullabye and sing to your child at bedtime or when they are scared.
~Have dinner together as much as possible. Meals like ‘taco Tuesday’ or ‘soup Saturday’ create excitement and consistency.
~Schedule a Family game night.
~Talk to your children about being part of your family… ‘This is what a (insert your family name here) does’. I used to tell my children, when discussing how to handle a difficult situation, well THIS is what a Whitworth does.
~Have a birthday tradition – I used to wake my children up on their birthday by bringing in a mini cake with candles and singing them ‘Happy Birthday’ then they would eat cake for breakfast.
~Have a family movie night at home where you eat popcorn and snuggle under blankets.
~Never make participation in family traditions or events based on behavior or having a clean room… They get to participate because they are part of the family!
Children love routine and knowing what to expect. It gives them a sense of security. When you create a family culture you send your child out into the world ready to meet the challenges ahead.