Adults thrive in an environment where they can anticipate what will happen. While many people think that parents who stick to schedules are too strict, children prosper in routines. Similar to grownups, predictability helps children feel safe and develop confidence.
Here are a few reasons why children need routines.
1. Routines put your children on a schedule.
Doing certain activities at the same time every day helps children develop “internal clocks.” Ever had a day when you didn’t set your alarm, but you woke up at the predefined time? That happens because having a routine creates a “body clock.” In the same way, routines help your child’s body know it’s time for naps, bowel movements, and such activities. They will naturally react appropriately to the set activity, making parenting less stressful. You don’t have to force them to sleep because they will already know that it’s nap time.
2. Schedules help create healthy habits.
Establishing routines like washing hands whenever your children get to the house or picking up toys after playing makes these activities feel less like chores. They become part of a healthy routine. Even as they grow older children, you don’t have to worry much about their hygiene because they regularly wash hands or brush teeth without requiring a reminder.
3. Routines help children feel safe.
As an adult, uncertainty causes anxiety and restlessness, and it applies to children too. Change is a scary thing for humans. Unfortunately, things keep changing, even for children. Every development stage comes with change that can be frightening. Having a routine gives them a sense of security even as they face new experiences.
4. Schedules create harmony in the household.
Most of the chaos in the house stems from parents wanting the children to do something different at a particular time. For example, a child may want screen time when the parent wants them to do homework. Having a defined schedule on the order of things eliminates friction. The child knows what they should be doing at a specific time. Although it’s natural for kids to want to rebel, knowing what should be done eliminates friction in most homes.
5. Routines help strengthen family bonds.
Routines are not only suitable for behaviour moulding but relationships too. Having meals as a family or having designated time for family playtime strengthens your connection with your kid. Many children look forward to spending time with their parents. You also pass on the message that family is essential. Sharing meals teaches the virtue of sharing as well.
6. Routines help your children become more confident and independent.
As you establish routines, you teach children various skills. It could be brushing their teeth, making beds, cleaning up, and other skills. A paediatrics assistant professor at Harvard Medical School states that having expectations from relationships and activities boosts children’s confidence. Children also become more independent because they master skills, and they don’t have to ask what comes next since there is a routine in place.
7. Routines are also crucial for parents.
Routines are incredibly beneficial to parents. They help you keep things organized in the house without feeling like you’re losing your sanity. Habits also remind you of things such as taking medication when a child is unwell. Having schedules also helps you notice things in your children. For example, if your child has bowel movements at certain times, you can tell when something is wrong with their health. It also helps you plan appropriately for your free time as a parent. If your children nap at a particular time, you can make plans earlier for yourself.
How to establish routines
1. Start early
The best time to start establishing routines is when they are born. Many parents struggle with changes that come with having a newborn in the house, so it’s not as easy as it sounds but the earlier you start forming routines, the better. It helps the child predict what happens next, creates body clocks, and keeps parents sane.
2. Remember establishing routines take time.
As a parent, one must have a lot of patience to deal with so many things, and establishing a routine requires it. Plan your mealtimes, playtime, naps, and other activities and enforce them until the children settle into the program.
3. Be consistent but flexible.
Have you ever tried working out and then skipped a few days? It becomes challenging to get back into the schedule. The same happens to your children if you’re inconsistent with following the set order of activities. Children learn from observing better than being told. Commit to following the schedule too. However, life is unpredictable, so you need to leave room for changes and unexpected scenarios.
4. Modify the routine when necessary
As your children grow, their needs and interests change. Modify the routine to account for these needed changes. Perhaps your kid needs more tuition time; create time for extra tutoring. If your child develops an interest in a particular sport or craft, make room for them to practice.
Routines for children
Ultimately you don’t want your home to feel like a military camp, so establish routines positively. Sometimes children require explanations as to why they must do certain things. While parenting needs you to be stern sometimes, maintain a healthy balance between pushing them to settle in a routine and enjoying the activities. It’s much easier to enforce habits when there’s no rebellion. You know your family and what they respond to, so use this knowledge to create a schedule that benefits everybody in your home.
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