One of the most difficult parts of the last two years for kids and teens was the lack of certainty, exemplified by the huge gaps in their summer calendar. The familiar end of year rites of passage and their associated rituals were stripped away by stay-at-home orders and extended Covid regulations.
At a time when big changes are on the horizon, sports days, school proms, shirt signings, high school orientations, school trips and simply meeting their new teachers, all contribute to stability for kids and teens.
Although Covid hasn't had such a huge impact on calendars this year, we are still seeing evidence of separation anxiety as stretched family finances mean that some rituals are being diluted or in some circumstances abandoned.
But what makes rituals so important for kids? Is missing out on a school trip really such a big thing? The short answer is yes!
Rituals are embedded in repetition and make us less anxious because they give us a degree of predictability, especially in uncertain times.
“The three-day trial at High school was great – it’s soooo much better than primary school and the teachers are nicer” – Sophie, 10
Rituals also have meaning beyond the action. A school Prom may only be seen as an excuse for a party, but it’s also marking a shift to independence and a glimpse of the future on the horizon.
“At Prom phones were banned so we could concentrate enjoying ourselves and the school gave us all a keepsake box” – Asena, 12
Research has also shown that applying rituals to performance – pre and post - can improve outcomes and participants' experience of it. We need only look to athletes like Rafael Nadal (multiple rituals including lining up water bottles) and Serena Williams (specific method of shoe tying) to see the power of rituals in performance.
“We had this (awards) ceremony for football because it’s the end of the season”, Tyler, 12
Rituals can also improve social bonding and trust amongst group members, so even those end-of-year water fights, dreaded by teachers, have high value.
“The best bit about the school residential (camp) wasn’t the non-stop activities – it was the dorm rooms, they were more fun” – PJ, 10
For brands, understanding how kids' and teens' lives are punctuated by these rituals is essential for successful engagement. Knowing where and when to get involved can make the difference in being a loved or ignored brand for this savvy audience.
If you'd like to know more and understand the role your brand can play next summer, now is the time to get in touch and use our brain. We're here to help.