Let's Teach Our Kids to Celebrate Life's Little Moments, Not Just the Major Milestones

by: Charise Rohm Nulsen
We do not need to save celebrations for only the major milestones like birthdays and holidays. The next time your toddler makes it through a grocery store trip without a meltdown or your tween reads to his younger brother without being asked, celebrate.
kids celebrating life's little moments with ice cream

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we are always celebrating our children. Holidays are pushed months in advance as we walk through stores, birthday parties can become elaborately detailed, and schools and sports teams often give out awards simply celebrating participation. Do we really need to celebrate our children more than that?

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With so much celebration and hype constantly being infused into our kids’ lives, a level of sincerity and spontaneity may be missing from childhood celebrations. As parents, we know far too well that those big milestones that are often highly anticipated are not often the moments we remember and reflect on with the most emotion. It’s the small moments in life that we tend to truly look back on as the most precious. The major milestones mark the passing of time, but the smallest moments are usually the ones where we find our hearts still attached.

Here are three ways to celebrate the everyday moments that we will ultimately treasure most with our children:

Celebrate kindness

kids celebrating kindness

If someone in your family does something kind for someone else, or if your child is on the receiving end of kindness, it’s an opportunity to celebrate. There may not be a greater gift to pass along to our children then to convey the value of giving and receiving kindness. And what better way is there to celebrate kindness than by paying it forward?

Spend a few hours out with your children looking for spontaneous ways to pay kindness forward. You can even have your children make little notes in advance to encourage spreading kindness which they can pass along to people throughout your kindness celebration. A few ideas: visit the ice cream parlor and treat another customer to ice cream; take a walk in the park, and hand someone walking or sitting alone one of your child’s drawings; go to a playspace and have your child invite someone who is playing alone to play with them.

Celebrate hard work

little girl rock climbing

No matter what the end result, we want our children to appreciate the journey whenever possible. If you’ve seen your child working hard - whether it’s on a school assignment or a Lego creation or at making a new friend - that is cause to celebrate. Dedication and a strong work ethic should be praised regardless of outcome.

Work with your child to create a special piece of art to always remember the occasion. A few ideas: print out a picture of your child at work and then have your child decorate a frame or create a small poster with it; create an illustrated word cloud together sharing the emotions that you both feel when you know you’ve worked hard; wrap up a shoe box and have your child fill it with words and pictures that embrace all of the dedication put into the task.

Turn a bad day into a happy one

mom consoling boy crying

It’s important to help our children understand that a tough day doesn’t mean things won’t get better. Though we don’t want to sweep sad and challenging emotions under the rug, we can still let our kids know that sometimes you never know when a bit of sunshine and happiness will shine your way - and that it often happens when we least expect it.

Teach your children the value of remaining optimistic by surprising them with a change in routine and a special afternoon after a hard day. A few ideas: maybe just this once, you clear that busy after school schedule and go play at the beach no matter what the weather (Almost any weather can be playtime with the right gear on!); go for a walk and follow a homemade scavenger hunt along the way; plan a special date for just you and your little one to go out for donuts or visit a museum or to see the latest children’s movie so you can excitedly talk about what you have to look forward to.

By slowing down and celebrating the small moments, we have the opportunity to have fun with our kids while still teaching them about our family values. We don’t have to let the calendar dictate our celebrations, and that is empowering for both parents and kids. Plus, when we focus on looking for reasons to celebrate, we may find that we are left with the gratitude and special memories that all families deserve to have.

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