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Explaining Traditions to a Child


Every family and culture has traditions that are conducted during the holidays, but children often assume that everyone celebrates in the same way. For children to understand their family’s traditions, it’s essential that parents talk to their children about them.

It’s not just the traditions practiced during holidays that matter. Children also need to know about the smaller things their family does ranging from tucking them in at night to special ways of saying goodbye as they head for the bus.

Habits to Traditions

What begins as a habit will transition into a tradition over time if repeated often enough. A tradition can be foods, actions or other practices handed down through generations. It may also be something newer and of shorter duration that’s been incorporated into the celebration. Traditions can be based on religious beliefs, personal values, relate to a family’s country of origin, or honor an ancestor.

Traditions aren’t always solemn recitations or actions – they can be funny and humorous – and smaller traditions are just as important as the larger ones. The whole point of traditions is to connect with family over shared bonds. It’s equally important for parents to teach tolerance of those that celebrate differently.

Tell a Story

Parents also need to understand that the explanation doesn’t have to be complicated and should be tailored to the age of the child. Elementary-age youngsters are great at asking “why” and they love stories. In learning about the family’s traditions, it gives children a sense of identity, belonging and stability.

Change is Good

Traditions change and evolve over time as new practices are added and pieces are discarded. The way traditions are celebrated now has changed from those of the past. Many grew out of technological advances. For instance, using electric lights on the Christmas tree instead of candles One of the great things about traditions is that every generation has the power to enact change while keeping the core values. Don’t be afraid of change or overlook the benefits that can come with it.

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