A routine is the game plan that gets your child up in the morning and tucked into bed at night. If things feel a bit chaotic, your child is irritable, and outbursts are a frequent occurrence, then perhaps it is time to revisit your game plan?
The simplest way to make a household run smoothly is to establish a consistent routine. And while predictability might sound rigid and boring to adults, your children will thrive on it. Here are our top four reasons why we encourage you to start today.
A routine reduces power struggles
A routine reduces the fear of the unknown. It is comforting to a child because it helps them feel in control of their world. Children also become accustomed to knowing what to expect and what is expected of them. When children start understanding the needs of the people around them, and when they feel their needs are also met, they are more likely to start acting out of consideration to others rather than just complying with a routine.
“In this way, children learn that other people have needs, and these needs are important. They also know that their needs are important and not subservient to parents’ needs. When children change their behaviour out of consideration, they are consciously putting their own needs last. A considerate change in behaviour is a voluntary change. There is no force involved, no power. Changing behaviour out of consideration is helpful for parents, empowering for children, and positive for the relationship.” – Larissa Dann
A routine helps children cope with change
Change is inevitable. As adults, we know this, but children don’t. Adults cope better with change for one simple reason – experience. A child who has been exposed to a routine his/her entire life will be more willing to trust you during times of change. Why? Because they know they can. A routine helps you to form a healthy attachment bond with a child because it promotes elements of safety, calmness, and stability. A securely attached child will be more open, confident, and adaptable to a change no matter how big or small.
A routine promotes family bonding
Young children are observers, and they pay close attention to what goes on around them. One thing that they will come to notice in a routine are the things (values, systems, interests, beliefs) that family members share. A child can see that the time spent together is special. A routine also reduces stress and anxiety among family members, leaving more time to enjoy each other’s company.
A routine promotes healthy habits
Routine models behaviour (the things people do) and how we express emotion (the things people say) to a child. From these behaviours and emotions, children learn self-discipline as well as how to self-regulate. From brushing teeth to breathing deeply during a fit of frustration, these are all habits that can be promoted by a healthy routine.
While establishing and maintaining routine has numerous benefits, it’s important to always consider the uniqueness of your child. What works in one household won’t necessarily work in yours. Therefore, we encourage you to make your child part of setting the routine, especially as they get older. Make use of effective communication skills like active listening and problem-solving techniques to help you along the way. And most importantly, remember to be patient and flexible.
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Karen Badenhorst: Parenting, Personal and Professional Development