How to Celebrate Milestones For and With Your Child

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READING TIME: 4 min.

Celebrate MilestonesA few years ago when my oldest was heading off to Kindergarten, some friends and I brainstormed on how we could celebrate our kids (all boys) to encourage them before they started school.

We landed on the idea of making gift baskets for each kid with some meaningful things inside – an idea, which while cute, was promptly and unanimously vetoed by all of our husbands.

So because of the great health of all of our marriages, the wives said “great, then take the reins and go for it” and the dads took over.

On the night of the celebration, we all got babysitters for our kids. Then the dads (there were 4 families involved) got into a car and went around “stealing” the sons from the houses where the sons thought they were going to be babysat.

The dads told the boys they were on their way to becoming men, and that they had what it took to be amazing kindergartners. Then they gave them each their own Red Ryder BB gun and everyone took off their shirts and they painted their chests with war paint and went into the wild to shoot their BB guns. Each of these boys came back glowing.

This would not have been the right celebration for EVERY kid. There was a lot of testosterone and roaring happening, and that wouldn’t be a blessing to every child. HOWEVER, I stand by our gift basket idea, in this case the plan our husbands devised was much more appropriate for these particular boys.

A year later, we celebrated a girly little girl with some shopping and makeup and a dinner date with her dad. The next year we did a manicure with another little, and the next year my sporty daughter who craves words of affirmation had a swim party with her closest friends and their families, and everyone brought a note to encourage her. I pasted these notes in a journal and she keeps it by her bed and re-reads the notes when she is down or feeling fearful.

The mistakes that we were making with our initial plan led us to success with subsequent children. What follows is a guide for celebrating your child at any milestone!

Think about HOW your kid feels loved (their love language) – I highly recommend the “5 Love Languages” book series by Gary Chapman. Chapman tells us we all show love and receive love in some specific ways, and by identifying a primary way your child loves you can fill up their tank more efficiently. Whether his primary love language is time, gifts, words, service, or touch – consider this when planning a way to honor your child.

Think about WHAT the kid loves – my friends and I got caught planning a celebration WE would love to make instead of a moment that our 6 year old boys would love to attend. Consider your child’s interests! Additionally, think about what your kid craves – in the case of our boys, they were each in that stage of daddy-worship, and so our husbands pouring in had a huge impact.

Don’t assume you need to spend a lot – self explanatory. You don’t. Your child wants you, and not just the access to stuff that you and your $$ represent. A hike, an hour of rock climbing together, an obstacle course you create, or a bike ride together can all be meaningful if you are in it to connect with your child. Which leads me to…

Add in a huge dose of connection – movie night, hanging at the arcade, and Chuck E. Cheese all make my kids smile but they aren’t places we tend to connect. If you opt for a place that is more “shoulder to shoulder” then make sure you tack on some eye contact during dinner before or after. Speak to the heart of your child. Tell him the good you see in him, and let him know what he is capable of becoming. In the daily grind of correction we can forget to speak life to our children…don’t feel guilty for all you’ve forgotten to say, but take this opportunity to say it.

Get creative – Plan something surprising, something different than the norm, so that your child remembers this celebration for years to come. And just in case, take pictures :).

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