Creating Positive Emotional Memories

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Emotional memories can be hard to describe but that doesn't mean they aren't powerful. We just wrote a post about the importance of positive emotional memories.

While there aren't any specific recipes for ensuring our kids have fond memories of our time together (that would probably take some of the authenticity out of it!), there are some ways that we can set the holiday season up for rich emotional memories that will last a lifetime:

  • If holidays are difficult, acknowledge this with friends and family. Find trusted friends or family and share your feelings. Be kind to yourself. Be willing to find ways to create new, more positive emotional memories. Getting support and being kind to yourself will reduce the likelihood that your negative emotional memories rub off on your kids.
  • Own your holiday schedule. What are you excited about? What can you pare back on? Carve out specific times for your family that don't feel high pressure.
  • Create traditions. Holiday traditions create a sense of stability, nurture a sense of family identity, and remind kids that holidays aren't just about presents. Examples of traditions include:
    • Doing community service. Rotate the privilege of choosing the organization you work with.
    • Baking family recipes.
    • Gaming together.
    • Reading a special book out loud.
    • Playing music together.
    • Making decorations that display what you are grateful for.
    • And on and on!
  • Make space for daily reflection. Create a daily practice with your kids that allows them to reflect on the spirit of the season. They might talk about their favorite thing that happened that day, say something kind they did for others, etc. This allows emotions to sink in.
  • Be open to modifying traditions as kids get older. As our kids grow up we may need to modify traditions to respect how they've changed and allow teens to take more ownership over them. This doesn't mean everything gets tossed out the window but pre-holiday negotiation is just fine.
  • Be gentle with yourself. There is no secret to creating perfect emotional memories. Even if the cookies or latkes burned and your teen dragged her feet through the evening, your efforts are what matter. In fact, many times kids look back at very trying stages of their life with a soft emotional heart because it is when they needed traditions the most. Take the long view and stay connected with your kids during the busy holiday season.