Adults appreciate words of praise from their boss or a celebratory dinner that acknowledges a well-executed project. Kids also like to celebrate their accomplishments. As parents, our challenge is how to celebrate children’s successes without going overboard.
From good grades to a winning goal to getting accepted into a program or making it through the week at a new school, there are lots of achievements worth celebrating as a family.
Here are six simple ways to celebrate life’s smaller victories and bigger moments:
1. Take time.
Fitting in a “celebration” may seem impossible or even get forgotten in the chaos of a week. That’s why it is important to acknowledge an accomplishment as soon as possible. Giving your full, undivided attention to a child is often what he or she is seeking. That, and a hug, can go a long way toward celebrating life’s small (and sometimes big) moments.
2. Tell others.
In an age of social media, it has become much more commonplace to share your children’s achievements with others on Facebook and Instagram. But are there people your children would like to share their accomplishments with? Texting a picture or FaceTiming with friends and family may be a better option than social media. Words from Grandma and Grandpa about good grades are fun to hear, and FaceTiming with them about a good week at school acknowledges the accomplishment and keeps them informed of all the positives.
3. Display it.
Depending on their ages, displaying children’s work or awards is a way for them to feel that their accomplishment is worthy of being viewed. Buy a set of inexpensive plastic frames that can be used as a rotating display of pictures and awards. Hang a corkboard where an older child might like to put up ribbons or medals. The kitchen refrigerator is always a place people go, which makes it the perfect spot for putting up photos of events, report cards, and artwork that makes your child proud. A chalkboard in a high-traffic area can be your family headline board, announcing a child’s accomplishment like a news flash!
4. Pick the meal.
Getting the chance to be the mealtime decision-maker can be a special treat to celebrate an accomplishment. Whether it’s a frozen-yogurt treat, dinner at a favorite local restaurant, or a favorite meal at home followed by a family movie or game night, your child will enjoy the opportunity to choose the celebration.
5. Create traditions.
Repeating some things can get boring, but when we repeat something fun, we often call it a tradition! Maybe you have a plate that is brought out only for such occasions, or a tablecloth that you use only for a special reason. Celebrating the joys of life should be a tradition, and including a physical element or an activity (like a family dance night) makes them memorable.
6. Physical rewards.
While there is much controversy about giving a gift or money to children as a reward, there are circumstances in which it can be a way to celebrate hard work. Good grades can mean money in the bank for college. A gift that will help in a program they’ve been accepted into makes sense. If the physical reward helps them to keep achieving, it also helps to celebrate the accomplishment.
From supportive words to displaying work, it’s simple to take a few moments to make your children feel special about their accomplishments. There is often little cost to acknowledging important moments in life. When parents and others acknowledge hard work toward a goal, it is very meaningful and encouraging, especially to children.
Janine Boldrin is the creative director at Chameleon Kids, publishers of Military Kids’ Life, an award-winning print magazine for children of U.S. service members. For more information, visit www.chameleonkids.com.