Written by Jennifer Gregory
Most parents celebrate their child’s birthday by planning a celebration or giving them a special gift. While it is important to let your child know how important they are to you throughout the year, it is important to make an extra effort to celebrate who they are on their birthday.
“Children want to feel special every day. A child also wants to feel particularly special on her birthday since it is the one day a year dedicated to celebrating her life,” says Maureen Healy, a child development expert and parenting author of 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids.
Here are some easy ways to create new birthday traditions that will help make their birthday special this year and for years to come.
- Decorate the bedroom. After your child goes to sleep the night before their birthday, sneak into their room and decorate it. When they wake up the next morning, they will know that their family was thinking of their special day. A few simple decorations will go a long way toward getting the birthday started on a happy note.
- Make a special sign wishing your child a ‘Happy Birthday’ and have everyone in the family write a note. Blow up some balloons in their favorite color and put them around their room. You can also tape crepe paper from their doorway to create a magic curtain door.
- Eat a special meal together. Many families celebrate their child’s birthday by having a special meal in their honor. You can make them a special breakfast and put candles in their pancakes or omelet. When she was growing up, Alison Wohlschlegel’s parents always let the birthday kid pick whatever they wanted for dinner, “It could even be a crazy combination of foods, such as chicken noodle soup with mashed potatoes on the side.” Other families take the birthday child out for dinner at a restaurant and let the birthday kid pick which restaurant.
- Preserve the memory. Another way to let your child feel special on their birthday is do something every year to mark passage of time. You can make a video interview of your child each year on their birthday and get them to tell the camera about things that are important to them at that time. “Videotaping creates a chronology of a child’s life that makes them feel special and unique when they watch it,” says Dr. Glen Earl, Child Psychologist. You can take a picture of your child in the same spot each year to see how they grow and change through the years. You could also make a handprint in cement to create a stepping stone for your garden.
- Write down what your child means to you. Since birthdays are also sentimental for parents, take this opportunity to write down your feelings about your child. Some parents write their child a special letter on their birthday each year, recording what they did that year and then give the child the letters when they are old enough to appreciate them.
- “Use your words powerfully as a parent,” reminds Healy. She suggests that parents write their child a special birthday card that the child can look at throughout the year. Be sure to include specific things that you like about your child and mention things that you have enjoyed doing together throughout the year.
- Have a birthday plate. A fun birthday ritual is to have a special plate that each person in the family uses for all of their meals on their birthday. While growing up, one of Teresa Black’s friend’s family had a birthday plate, and she has now started this tradition with her daughter. If you want to be creative, you can purchase a plain plate and have your family decorate the birthday plate using ceramic paint. You can also buy a plate that is a different color from your regular dishes or has a fun design on it.
- “Focus upon how you make your child feel. They will remember this feeling and forget the presents you gave them,” says Healy. Be sure to continue the traditions that you start in your family through the years and one day, you may watch your children continue the same birthday traditions with your grandkids.
Jennifer is the mom of two kids and three dogs. Her family has a special birthday hat that the birthday person wears during meals on their special day.