What does routine mean to a child? It means they know exactly what will happen after school. It means they know the order of events leading up to bedtime. It means their environment is safe and happy.
Today, we’d like to examine WHY routines are important for your child, and how you can help build successful routines for the whole family!
Routine can help pave the way for moments of independence.
If your child knows that you wake up, you eat breakfast, you get dressed, you brush teeth, and you put on shoes, they might take initiative after eating breakfast. They might go get dressed without a reminder.
Remember to be patient. Your child might need to do the same thing 50 times before independently taking the task upon herself. But, creating the environment for independence helps tremendously.
Routine can help your child make decisions
We hear a lot about decision fatigue. This affects children, too. If you don’t know if you’re eating breakfast in the car or at the table or while your parent helps you get dressed, it can create a stressful situation. Having a routine and sticking to it means that when a decision needs to be made, it’s something more like, “Would you like an apple or orange for breakfast?” rather than “Would you like to eat breakfast in the car or at school?”
Additionally, routine helps parents when faced with a recalcitrant child. You are able to say “Today is Monday, and we go to school on Mondays. It is not a decision that needs to be made, this is just what we do.”
Routine helps in tumultuous or unpredictable times.
Knowing what happens when you get picked up from school (a snack, a bit of errands, some quiet time for play, dinner, bath, a book, bed) can be a reassuring, peaceful time for a child amidst a move, starting a new school, or holiday busyness.
While as adults, we might crave something new or exciting, we need to be aware that a child does not have the same needs as we do. Additionally, giving your child a few days notice if the routine is going to change helps them understand that this isn’t an ongoing change, but rather a one time occurrence.
Routines create logical thinking.
Math equations, science experiments, even grammar and syntax all follow logical, predictable sequences. Daily life is a mirror of this. We (typically) don’t eat breakfast and then go back to bed.
A routine allows the child freedom and grace within that structure. If you know there’s always a book before bed, you can pick out which ONE book you want to read. On the other hand, if you aren’t sure if there will be book time tomorrow, you might want a parent to read you ALL your favorites tonight.
Life is busy and chaotic. Sometimes things come up and in order to function as a family, we need to roll with it. If we can create routines for children, and follow them as much as possible, it paves the way for both parent and child to have a bit more flexibility and moment of calm within those busy moments. Establishing a routine also helps build trust and respect in the parent-child relationship, and provides the building blocks for a happy home environment.
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