Children need routines in their lives to thrive. They help children to understand the management of time, establish habits that are important, learn skills, and even create strong bonds with one another. It helps to take away that fear of the unknown and create a sense of security for a positive and healthy lifestyle.
Part of making a routine for your child also means that you have to establish structure. When you create structure you have to be specific and intentional. The structure aids your child’s emotional, social and brain development, as well as providing consistency. Here are some good tips that you can build upon to create and maintain a structure in your child’s routine beyond simple daily tasks.
HOBBIES AND CREATIVE OUTLETS
Having a weekly calendar that maps out important tasks day-to-day is a great way to show your child the continuity that comes with a routine. Having your child attend regularly scheduled events is helpful for structure. Creative outlets and hobbies that your child can engage in is a great way to have a healthy routine.
One of the best outlets for inducing creativity and structure in your child’s routine is weekly music lessons. They’ll have the opportunity to sing or play an instrument as part of a weekly schedule, while also learning valuable life skills. They’ll improve their social skills, likely perform stronger academically, and exercise self-discipline.
These are best achieved, though, when your child feels comfortable and motivated. It’s important to find the instructor and schedule that’s right for their routine. If you worry that you don’t have the time or resources to devote to getting your child to a vocal lesson each week – or perhaps you fear that attending a lesson in an unfamiliar environment could be anxiety-inducing – there are companies like Music to your Home that offer “private lessons in the comfort of the home of each student” – both with an in-person instructor or through online coaching. Also, keep in mind that children have to schedule practice times in between their lessons, so part of their routine becomes not only the lesson itself but managing their time in order to practice every day.
You can also pick certain days of the week to be a specific activity or event to give your week more structure than just the same old dinner, bath, then bed routine. For example, you can have every Wednesday night be Family Game Night or every Friday to be Movie and Popcorn Night. These are other ways in which your children can develop curiosity and utilize a creative outlet.
You can even have the game nights correspond with certain tasks, such as if you do trivia on the game night because your child has a test coming up, or doing karaoke and charades because your child is interested in theater and is auditioning for the school play. Get creative with it!
Boundaries are extremely important for children in regards to their routine and structure, as well as their discipline. When children have a clear perspective on their limits they are less likely to deviate from them. It then becomes a learned behavior because these rules have been established. You should also create a safety checklist since safety is an essential part of your children’s feeling secure. You can keep the rules of the house very simple, so for instance, some ideas for rules can be:
- No TV/phones/tablets at the dinner table
- Do homework first when arriving home after school
- No dessert unless you finish your dinner
- Chores before playtime
Rules established need to include behaviors as well. Expectations of parents on how their children should behave should be set forth, and the structure will work alongside those expected behaviors. So rules can also include expected behaviors like:
- No physical violence (hitting)
- No screaming or yelling at one another; disagreements will be talked about calmly
- No breaking or treating your toys with disrespect
These rules help to create a full circle of structure that your children should be able to comply within a healthy environment where expectations are set forth.
DAILY OR WEEKLY CHORES
After you’ve created the rules and expectations, you can work to implement having your children do household chores, which should be added as a daily necessity. Chores create a sense of responsibility and independence, in addition to structure, and also become part of a daily or weekly routine.
The chores you implement can be simple, such as: pick up toys and put them away, fold your laundry and put it away, put dirty clothes into the laundry basket to wash. Or, you can be more specific if you’d like. Some parents go as far as to create chore charts and label certain chores for certain days to create more structure.
FOLLOW THROUGH WITH CONSEQUENCES
When children do something wrong, they should be held accountable for their actions. This aids in the predictability and the expectations of the structure. You need to keep up and follow through with the rules, chores, or behaviors that you set forth.
Most parents expect their children to behave a certain way, and when that behavior doesn’t coincide with expectations, or worse, the children do something that they know full well is wrong, their needs to be consequences. When you set forth rules and expectations, explain what happens when your children do not abide by them. If you tell your child that they will be punished if they do something, and then they do it, punish them – every time. Consistency is key and children will completely take advantage of a situation when they know that the parent is not following through as promised.
This also goes for behaviors that are to be praised, too. Don’t forget that children like the structure of knowing that whenever they do something really good, they will receive something in return as well. It is just as important to celebrate and follow-through on wins.
ROUTINES ARE IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS, TOO
The rituals created and established make transitions easier for children, but it also works the same way for parents, especially new ones. Early-onset of having children can be overwhelming, so having a clear plan and creating structure around a routine is very helpful in that transition.
Daily routines are often thought of as just the overall maintenance of day-in and day-out, but they do so much more for both children and parents. They offer opportunities to learn, build curiosity and communication, and even create a strong relationship between parents and children. Relationships and repetition are two important factors that go into the ability to cope with various situations throughout life.
Be sure as your child gets older that you are mindful of changing the structure to accommodate. Equip your children with a structure in a healthy routine to develop their skills, and you will find that coping with transitions throughout their lives will go more smoothly as they continue to grow and change.
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