The Sweet 'Red Plate' Tradition One Mom Uses To Make Her Kids Feel Special

by Holly Garcia
Originally Published: 
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We all have special traditions to celebrate our family’s successes and wins. Maybe you take the kiddos out for a small treat when they do well on a test. Or maybe you celebrate the end of the school year by going to their favorite restaurant. But no matter what you choose, celebrating and acknowledging the small wins is meaningful to your littles.

Mom Emily Rousell shared a family practice that resonated with many on social media: the red plate tradition. When someone in her family is being celebrated, she puts out a red plate for them at dinner time. This unique tradition is a simple way to acknowledge individual family members. It doesn’t require any extra time when setting the dinner table, but it has an incredible impact.

Scary Mommy had the opportunity to speak with Emily about what her red plate tradition is used for.

What Is The Red Plate Tradition?

“We started out with a special plate for birthdays. When the kids got older, we realized other moments were popping up,” Rousell said. “Some were little, some were big, but we still wanted to highlight those experiences and celebrate them.”

She added: “I had heard of other families using a red plate for this same purpose. Against our usual white table setting, I thought red would pop and stand out.”

What an incredible way to make your littles feel special. Sometimes moments that seem small to us, as parents, mean the world to them. Even when these moments are hard, overcoming them should still be acknowledged.

“We have four children, and sometimes in a big family, it can be challenging for each child to feel known individually. The red plate tradition helps us celebrate each of them as their own person. We make sure it appears on the table not only for achievement-based moments, like a good grade or a winning game, but for hard work, effort, and heart regardless of the outcome.”

Why This Tradition is So Important

“Celebrating these (learning) moments inspired me to share the red plate tradition on social media. My daughter came home from school one day, and explained she’d lost the student council election. She was understandably disappointed, but she also shared how she hugged and congratulated her friend who won,” Rousell said.

“She went on to list all the reasons her friend would be great at the job. And while she was sad to have lost, she genuinely supported and encouraged her friend. She demonstrated precisely what we nurture in our kids. Being brave, giving her best effort, and being a gracious sport when it didn’t work out in her favor made us incredibly proud. This was a great opportunity to reinforce some beautiful and kind behaviors. Our red plate tradition gives us an easy way to do that,” she added.

So what did her daughter thought about earning the red plate, even though she didn’t technically win. “She did question why she had a red plate since she’d ‘lost.’ It gave us a chance to talk about all the ways she’d really won. Our hope is our the kids feel their heart is really seen and known.”

The red plate tradition also inspires conversations about those qualities. Rousell said, “Kindness, hard work, going out of their way to help, doing the right thing in a tough moment all should be celebrated. Using the red plate is a quick and easy way to reinforce this behavior and continue to nurture our kids. It’s nothing over the top. In fact, we think it is just enough. The red plate tradition is an easy, practical way to celebrate your kiddos on a regular basis.”

In addition to sharing this red plate tradition with Scary Mommy, Emily also shared a little bit about her picture book, “Rock You Tonight“.

“I wrote this for new moms and babies, when my twins, were just a few months old. It’s about Mom feeling all the overwhelm and pressure of that ever-running ‘list,’ not to mention all the tired. Not only is it great for baby’s bedtime, but it’s also a story is for moms too. It’s one that says, I see how hard you’re working, how much is on you, and you juggling it all. But most importantly, I see how much you love that baby, and you see it too.

Emily’s story about her family’s red plate tradition shows us all the importance and ease of celebrating even the smallest moments. As parents, we’re always looking for ways to nurture our kiddos’ kind hearts and brave spirits, and this is one great way to do it.

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