Rituals can be an incredibly powerful tool for building trust and security in the family. They provide containment and structure both of which can be very soothing and regulating to a child’s nervous system
When we think of family rituals we often imagine the big days on our calendar—holidays, birthdays, graduations etc. Small, simple, everyday rituals however can be incredibly powerful tools for fostering resiliency in children and strengthening the bonds of attachment between child and caregiver. Everyday rituals can be particularly useful during times of transition (i.e. morning/night, home/school) when children often feel anxious, fearful or unsure around what will happen next.
This is especially true for the adoptive child who may associate any transition with early memories of loss, grief and/or confusion related to their adoptive history.
One way to support any child through deeper feelings is by creating unique (and fun!) family rituals together for everyday, not just for the “big days." Rituals provide containment and structure both of which can be very soothing and regulating to a child’s nervous system. Rituals also increase the nourishing bonds of secure attachment, which can have positive ripple effects for the whole family.
Some examples of Everyday Rituals:
- A morning and bedtime song, handshake or dance.
- Make a mailbox together to be stored in a special place in the house where you and your child leave notes for one another
- A dinner ritual where each member gets to take turns sharing about their day using a “talking stick” (or other object) that is passed around the table.
- A game to play in the car such as “I spy,” or an “I love you” song where both the child and adult sing what they love about one another.
- Light a special candle, say a blessing/prayer each night or create an altar together that symbolizes something your family wishes to honor, celebrate or recognize. Return to this altar often as a way to remember what you've created together.
- Take advantage of the daily drives with your teen to check-in and inquire about their world. Car rides can be an incredibly powerful and safe space for parent and teens to re-connect.
- For adoptive families: Tell a story about when you (parent) first met your child—include details about the whole day—the weather, what your child was wearing, what you were feeling.
For more fun ideas....explore a wonderful book called, "I Love you Rituals" by Becky Bailey, PhD.
And remember, CREATIVITY is KEY-- Children’s brains respond extremely well to rituals that involve song/music, rhythm, art, movement and dance!