Resilience Is Family: 40 Ideas for New Family Traditions

Resilience is the ability to overcome serious stress or difficulty, and bounce back stronger than ever. In this series, Connecticut Children’s pediatric experts share keys to resilience, and how to help your child be resilient during the coronavirus pandemic.

Routines and stability help kids get through stressful times. But life is unpredictable – especially in a pandemic. How can parents give kids the stability they need to be resilient?

To answer, developmental pediatrician Robert D. Keder, MD, returns to the blog.

Give your child stability (and fun) with family traditions.

One of the hardest parts of this pandemic has been the uncertainty surrounding it. Many of the things your child relied on as constants – school, friends, sports – have been completely turned upside down.

The good news is that your family can be its own constant. During uncertain times, the traditions you share will bring your family closer together, and be a source of hope and reassurance for your child.

Here are ideas.

Games and entertainment

1. Schedule a recurring game night. You can go classic like charades or cards, or something modern like your child’s favorite video game. (Tip: To make sure your child’s game is age-appropriate, look it up on commonsensemedia.org – my favorite resource for helping families navigate media.)

2. Work together as a family to make up your own game. A board game just requires a piece of cardboard and some art supplies.

3. Gather around a podcast or for the next chapter of an adventure book.

4. Plan a standing movie night. If you have a house with a lawn, you can even spread blankets outside and use a projector to show them against the side of your house.

Creativity

5. Write a family play, or set aside time for improv games like “One-Word Story” (everyone helps tell a story — one word at a time).

6. Host a weekly talent show, family singalong or “band practice” with makeshift musical instruments.

7. Create a home art gallery. Have each family member contribute art, and work together to decide how to arrange and display it in specific area of your house. Host a “gallery opening” with snacks and music.

8. Make home movies. Take turns “interviewing” each other, share updates from the week to send to other family members, or just come up with a silly plot and see if you can capture it on film.

9. Schedule art and creativity time together. Coloring is a soothing activity for kids and adults! Set a timer and have LEGO building challenges.

10. Carve out time for music appreciation. Go around the family and have each person play a favorite song. Work together on a family playlist.

Food

11. Create a weekly tradition around a favorite family dish – preferably one that kids can get involved in the preparation: Think Taco Tuesday, pizza nights and pancake breakfasts.

12. Host cooking or baking classes. Teach your child how to help you in the kitchen, or if they’re old enough, to make recipes on their own.

13. Make meal-planning a family affair: One week, let your child pick the meal, the next week, rotate to another family member. You can even incorporate themes, decorate the dining area and play music to match.

14. Ask grandparents for traditional family recipes, and try cooking them as a family. (Bonus points if you include grandma or grandpa via video chat.)

Physical activity

15. Hold a recurring family dance party. Get your child involved in picking out the songs.

16. Look to trails nearby for weekly nature hikes. (Be sure to observe social distancing if other families have the same idea.)

17. Go for evening walks around the block.

18. Use one of the breaks in your child’s home-school schedule for the family to exercise together, outdoors or indoors.

19. If your child is an athlete, encourage them to stay active by staging family competitions – the best driveway three-point shot, the most push-ups.

20. Look up yoga, dance and other instructional videos to try together.

Heritage

21. Set aside time each week to go through old family photos. Curate an “exhibit” to display your favorites for awhile along with handwritten description cards.

22. Carve out time each week to work on a family tree.

23. Teach your child about your family’s cultural heritage: Bake traditional recipes, play traditional music, look up photos and videos of famous places.

24. Share stories from your own childhood, including ups and downs.

25. Have your child use video chat or phone to interview their grandparents and other relatives about what life was like when they were growing up.

26. Think about things that you did with your parents, and recreate those activities for your modern family.

> Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health is committed to building resilience in children and families so they can be better positioned to thrive in challenging times. Learn more about our community-oriented work.

Service

27. Cook food for a neighbor.

28. Make a video for a family member you’re not able to see.

29. Send care packages to loved ones.

30. Write a thank-you letter to an essential worker, like your mail carrier, a grocery store cashier or healthcare worker.

31. Share your #chalk4childrens photos to support Connecticut Children’s team members and all healthcare workers.

Other ideas

32. Start a garden.

33. Show your child how to do something you love (properly detail a car, make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, arrange flowers). You can even turn it into an independence-building activity with these tips from our pediatric expert.

34. Ask your child to teach you some new dance moves, or teach them yours.

35. Create a “compliment bowl” or “gratitude bowl.” All week long, have family members write down things they’re grateful for, or compliments for each other. Once a week, read it aloud as a family.

36. Make a “gratitude chain.” Using strips of colored paper, have each family member write one thing they’re grateful for each day. Attach each new chain link, and watch it grow.

37. Share “highs and lows.” Mealtimes are great for this: Go around the table, and have each family member share a low point and a high point from their week or day.

38. Create a coping toolbox for each family member, and set aside time each day to use it.

39. Schedule time as a family to practice mindfulness and relaxation. Here are 12 simple exercises to get you started.

40. Check out these 16 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy During Social Distancing for other ideas you can adapt for family traditions.

Many of these activities will help your child build key developmental skills, like learning how to make decisions, develop language and work together with others.

Most importantly, family routines help kids be resilient. So whatever tradition you choose, make it a recurring, scheduled event that your child – and you – can count on.

 

Read the next article in the series >>

Check out all of our coronavirus resources for families >>

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