When a red plate is placed on the table at Emily Rousell's house, her four kids know someone in the family is being celebrated that night.
The tradition was started "three or four years ago," Rousell told Fox News.
"We started out using a special 'celebration' plate for family birthdays," she said. "Soon we realized that there were other moments, in addition to birthdays, that we wanted to hold up as special and recognized. Our regular dinner plates are white, so red seemed like a good choice to stand out from the rest and highlight a person's spot at the table."
Recently, Rousell shared on Facebook that her daughter had lost a student council election. She was understandably confused when her mom told her the red plate was in her honor.
The Pittsford, New York, mom wrote in part:
And yes, maybe as far as winning that title, she'd lost.
But really she'd won.
By being willing to be brave. To be vulnerable. To go after a goal.
By hugging the friend that took the coveted spot and congratulating her.
By handling her disappointment with grace.
By learning that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but life's really important lessons come from the journey and not the outcome.
By jumping in a race she cared about and giving her best effort.
That's a red plate kind of dinner night.
The red plate, Rousell told Fox News, has changed the family dynamic.
"Parenting happens in layers, and as many opportunities we get or can create to positively reinforce and encourage and build them up, the better," she said. "Sometimes in a bigger family it's too easy to not be seen individually - this provides one extra way for them to have an extra moment now and then when they can feel special and known as an individual and not just part of the sibling group."
Her kids even come to their mom to share why they think one of their siblings should get a red plate.
"The red plate is quick, it doesn't require any extra time when pulling dinner together, but it definitely serves its purpose," Rousell said. "We make sure that in addition to something achievement-based, like a report card or a winning game, that it comes out to celebrate true effort and heart no matter the outcome."