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 she is throughout the year, it is crucial to make an extra effort to celebrate who she is on her 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,” said Maureen Healy, a child development expert and 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 her birthday, sneak into her room to decorate. When she wakes up the next morning, she will know that her family was thinking of her special day. A few simple decorations 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 her favorite color and put them around the room. You can also tape crepe paper from the doorway to create a magic curtain door.
Bake a cake
This year make your child’s birthday cake instead of purchasing one from the store. Your child will appreciate even a simple sheet cake made from a box. You can also start the tradition of making a specific type of cake or making the birthday cake together. Some families purchase the cake for the child’s friends’ party, but make the child’s cake to eat with their family on the actual birthday.
Dr. Glen Earl, child psychologist, remembers his mother making his birthday cake every year with a special recipe. “As an adult, I still feel that it is not my birthday unless someone makes me this special cake that I only eat on my birthday,” Earl said.
Eat a special meal together
Many families celebrate their child’s birthday by having a special meal in their honor. You can make her a special breakfast and put candles in her pancakes or omelet. When growing up, Alison Wohlschlegel’s parents always let the birthday child 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,” she said. Other families take the birthday child out for dinner at a restaurant and let the birthday child pick the restaurant.
Preserve the memory
Another way to let your child feel special on her birthday is to do something every year to mark passage of time. You can make a video interview of your child each year on his birthday and get him to tell the camera about things that are important to him at that time.
“Videotaping creates a chronology of a child’s life that makes them feel special and unique when they watch it,” Earl said.
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 each year and then give the child the letters when they are old enough to appreciate them.
“Use your words powerfully as a parent,” Healy said. She said parents should write a special birthday card that the child can look at throughout the year. Be sure to include specifics that you like about your child and mention moments you have enjoyed together throughout the year.
“Focus upon how you make your child feel,” Healy said. “They will remember this feeling and forget the presents you gave them.”
Remember to continue the traditions you start in your family through the years. One day you may watch your children continue the same birthday traditions with their children.