The Importance of a Regular Routine to your Child
A regular schedule provides the day with a structure that creates order in a young child’s world. Although predictability can be tiresome for adults, children thrive on repetition and routine. Schedules begin from the first days of life: babies, especially, need regular sleep and meal times in order to keep their systems regulated.
As children grow, they develop independent thoughts and feelings through expectation and routine; by knowing what is going to happen and who is going to be there. This also helps them to feel more safe and secure.
How to create a routine:
Dinnertime. Dinnertime is a great place to start setting a routine. Sitting together at the dinner table gives children the opportunity to share their day and talk about their feelings. This is also a great time to include some responsibility in your child’s routine, such as helping to set or clear the table. In this fast-paced world it may be difficult to have a sit-down dinner every night so at the very least you should designate at least 3 nights a week for this.
Bedtime. Regardless of how exhausted you or your children may be, don’t be tempted to skip winding down at the end of the day. This is part of a nighttime ritual and allows both child and parent to decompress after a busy day. It also helps bedtime go more smoothly.
This is usually the time of day when parent and child can spend some quality time together, so fight the urge to start the laundry or do the dishes until after your child goes to bed. Instead, curl up with your little one and a few books for a snuggly story time.
Take the time to find out what wind-down strategy works best for your child. For example, some children are actually energized instead of relaxed by a warm bath so you should consider having bath time at a different time of day.
Flexibilty. Whatever routine you settle on, there should be some room to be flexible as well. You might be out late at night on a family outing, have unexpected company show up or have your child nap in the car while running errands. In these instances it is important for you to model to your child that disruptions are nothing to become angry or frustrated over and teach them to accept flexibility in their routine.
Routines help to make child feel safe and secure.
It is within this safety and security that they are able to develop their independence and confidence. Help you child acquire a strong sense of self by providing expectation but also teach them the importance of flexibility by preparing them for changes and showing them that disruptions are not the monumental devastation they may think they are.
Routines are also beneficial for parents too – imagine how much easier organizing your life will be when you know exactly what to expect!