Dancing with Dad  In the Village class this semester, we are focusing on the typical routines in a day, as well as the rituals that families add to these routines to make special connections with their children.  In the book “I Love You Rituals”, I think Becky Bailey has summarized it best. (Find out more at my resources BLOG, Music Connections recommends…  See link on right side.)

“Life with young children if full of routines.  There are bedtime routines, chores routines, and mealtime routines, to mention a few.  Routines are essential for young children.  Routines help children learn to tell time and regulate their own internal clocks.  Children discover that after bath time comes story time.  They learn to predict what will happen next, and in doing so, they feel more empowered to tackle the task.  Our brains are pattern-seeking devices.  The clearer the patterns for young children, the more brain-enriching the environment. 

Rituals are not routines.  There is a difference between the two.  The goal of routines is continuity.  The goal of rituals is connection.  Rituals create sacred space designated for togetherness and unity.  Holiday rituals typify this point.  Many families gather on Thanksgiving to bond in gratitude, and birthday rituals, such as having one’s favorite meal prepared, are also a form of honoring a family member.  Rituals are the glue that holds the mosaic of love together.  Street gangs create rituals to fill the emptiness their members feel as a result of the lack of connection in their lives.  We can create healthy rituals with our children, or they will form them with others as best they can.  …, we can greet our children with an I Love You Ritual, or we can arrive at the day care center and say “Where are your things?  Hurry: we have to stop at the store on the way home.”  The choice is ours. 

Loving healthy rituals foster the development of loving, emotionally healthy children.”

Just a few personal examples of simple loving rituals that I use with my family include:

1.  My first words to my children when they wake up is “Good Morning, Sunshine”, followed by a big hug (or sometimes a gentle rub on the cheek or back scratch for my son, who sleeps in a VERY TALL bunk bed.)  I even have a little song I made up to go along with it that I sing occasionally, when the moment feels right.

2.  Bathtime is a wonderful time for rituals.  With each of my children, as young ones, I would wrap them up in a towel and whisk them up in the air, to where they can see us both in the mirror, and say, “Who is that?” and “Who loves you?”.  So they have a wonderful visual to keep in their mind about our togetherness.  Of course, with my daughter, she keeps expanding our after bath ritual to include more unique moments, such as a little song adapted from “Wrap her up, I’ll take her”, and then lying cuddled up on a blanket in her room with a gentle body massage before she gets dressed.

Loving touch is SOOOO important to include in your rituals.  “Brain research confirms the critical role of touch in our mental and emotional health.  When we touch one another, a hormone is released called the nerve growth factor.  This hormone is essential to neural function and learning.  The brain and the skin develop from the same embryonic tissue.  The skin, in essence, is the outside layer of the brain.  If we want smart, happy children, we must consciously touch them. … We must embrace touch for its value and function in development and learning.

By understanding caring touch, children develop compassion for themselves and others.  Hitting becomes hugging, snatching becomes asking, and the difference between caring touch and unwanted, uncomfortable touch is learned.” (pg. 11 in “I Love You Rituals)

I would LOVE to hear about your rituals.  Please add a comment and describe a loving family ritual that your family shares.   The sharing of ideas motivate and encourage families to use rituals in their everyday lives.  May you have many!