Family Rituals and Traditions


Our family rituals and traditions keep us connected. They bring purpose and authenticity to the things we do and bring meaning to our lives.


Thinking back on my own childhood I have strong memories of the things we did over and over again. We had family traditions at Christmas, Easter and for special events. Going to stay at the beach in summer, going out for fish and chips to celebrate, sharing cake for birthdays, having extended family visit at Christmas.


For children, the power of rituals starts before birth and continues through early childhood education, primary school, and beyond. Throughout their life engaging in these rituals and traditions will continue to link them back to their family and community.


When our children begin childcare we can help them feel more comfortable by sharing our family’s rituals and traditions with the educators. Even small moments of familiarity will help children feel more settled and contribute to the continuity of care between home and the centre.


Think of rituals as processes with meaning. This could be reading a story before bedtime every evening, following the same steps again and again when settling a child to sleep, having a cuddle, saying goodbye and handing over to the same educator every morning at day care drop off – the predictability helps us all as we feel safe and supported. Particularly for young children, consistent and predictable rituals help them feel safe, and when children feel safe, they thrive!


When we identify and share our family’s rituals and traditions they become powerful and authentic moments. From simple and repeated daily actions to annual celebrations or events, they fast become new traditions and loved memories, things that are anticipated each year.


When we take time to share and understand the importance and power of rituals and traditions, we can better understand each other on a deeper level. With this familiarity comes trust and connection.


We are fast approaching Easter and Anzac Day. These can be important times in our family calendars regardless of what we believe or celebrate. Your family might already have a tradition of going away or seeing family at Easter or marching on Anzac Day. Take a moment to consider what you want your children to remember and what values you want to instil in them. You could find out if the churches in your local area are offering any special programs or activities over Easter. You could look into what marches and services are happening in your neighbourhood for Anzac Day.


A centre I worked with developed an Anzac Day ritual where each year all educators got up early to participate in the local dawn service and march with their families and children. This happened one year as an educator was a member of the Defence Force. The next year despite that educator moving away, the event continued. It became a valuable ritual and tradition for the centre and its community to participate in. The connection this builds between the centre and the community, the value it places on honouring the past and teaching future generations, and the belonging it brings to current and future family members who do the same thing year after year is irreplaceable. 


Respecting and understanding the power in rituals and traditions is an invaluable tool for us as families and for the centres our children attend. Take the time to share your views with your childcare centre and invite them to experience your rituals and traditions.


Maggie Dent writes beautifully on ‘The comfort of family ritual’ if you would like some further reading.