By Laura Walker, staff writer for Canopy Children’s Solutions
The holidays can be filled with joy and happiness, but they can also be sad and isolating for families after life-changing events such as death, separation, deployment, or divorce. These feelings can be especially present for children.
“Parents’ time is valuable and children recognize that from an early age,” said Sheree Bailey, Ph.D., Outpatient Therapist with Canopy Children’s Solutions. “When a parent spends time with a child, you are telling them, ‘you have worth’ and reinforcing the validity of your relationship. Establishing a monthly or annual tradition gives a child a sense of stability, builds trust, and reminds the child they are still an important part of your life even if your time together is more limited than before.”
Children can become stressed over feeling isolated after a change in family dynamics. It is important to reassure your child that your time together still holds great value, which is why traditions, particularly after trauma, can be a great way to heal together. Establishing a holiday tradition demonstrates to your child that they have security and gives them something to look forward to each year.
Traditions don’t have to be costly or extravagant; however, they should be consistent and intentional. One of the best things about traditions, is it is never too late to start. Here are a few suggestions:
Regardless of what you do, be “present” without being in a rush. Have a conversation with your child about what they enjoy most about the activity and take time to really listen. These special occasions can mend broken hearts by fully investing in the moment. Continuing traditions creates a sense of unity within the family which helps to build a child’s identity as an integral part of the family unit.
These traditions may be the most vivid memories of your child’s young life. Make sure they are filled with happy moments of love and acceptance. Find something that brings your family joy for years to come that your children can pass on to the next generation.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy) offers an array of behavioral health, educational and social service solutions to children and families throughout Mississippi. For more information about programs offered through Canopy, please visit mycanopy.org or call 800-388-6247.