Kids thrive on the kind of regularity and predictability that seems boring to adults. Day-in and day-out routines make them feel secure and help them learn about order. That's why simple rituals such as saying grace before meals or singing a song before bed become so pivotal for preschoolers. If yours is a busy family with a lot of unexpected events and hectic schedules, these fixed points may even be more critical for both you and your child.
Holidays and momentous events such as births and deaths are especially important times to develop regular family rituals. Eating the same foods, using the same special dishes and decorations, and experiencing the same events over and over help kids understand their origins, values, and identities. Get your child involved in the preparations, and talk about the events ahead of time. Show your preschooler pictures of the same event happening another time, or of similar events that took place when you were a child. Although your child won't get all of the connections at this age, he's building a sense of himself as a member of a family and a tradition. If you're uncomfortable with your own family's traditions, make up new ones. Later on you'll hear your kids say, "In our family we've always done..." as if your new rituals go back 10 generations!