Routines are activities that happen at about the same time and in about the same way each day, to help guide children’s actions toward a specific goal.
Predictable routines give children comfort: a sense of safety and mastery by providing their day with a framework they recognise. Knowing what to expect from people and from activities builds a child’s confidence and self-control. Predictability can be tedious for adults but children thrive on consistency and repetition.
- Routines smooth transitions between activities for children. Brushing teeth, sleeping, turning off the TV, sitting down to dinner - it’s just what we do at this time of day. Everybody knows what comes next. Routines give warnings for the transitions and help children cooperate.
- Routines eliminate power struggles because parents aren’t bossing the child around. Mum and dad stop being the bad guys: this is what happens next. Children get fair warning for transitions and they don’t feel pushed around or like their parents are being arbitrary. It’s just the normal pattern.
- Routines help children take charge of their own activities. Over time the children learn to implement their own routines without constant reminders. They feel more independent and in charge of themselves.
- Routines help children learn to look forward to things they enjoy. Routines are not just for chores. Wrestling with dad after a bath, reading before bed, a treat after tidying up; children can anticipate the pleasure of a fun routine too.
- Routines establish schedules. Children who settle into the pattern of routines stay more closely on track. They fall asleep when it’s sleep time, eat when it’s meal time, tidy up when it’s tidy up time.
- Routines help parents maintain consistent expectations. With routines parents are more likely to stick to what’s best for everyone because that is ‘just the way we do things’. Vegetables get eaten, teeth get brushed, books get read, and toys get put away. Everything runs more smoothly.
Routines offer the chance to build a child’s self-confidence, curiosity, social skills, self-control, communications skills, and more.
All while making a parent’s life much easier!