Routines at home create a stable foundation that makes it easier for children to cope in an unpredictable world. Children's lives change on a daily basis - new schools, new teachers, new friends, learning new skills and processing new information. Children, just like the rest of us, handle change best if it happens in amongst a familiar routine. Those children who have basic routines find it much easier to develop good habits and routines throughout their lives. Research has also shown that routines can also improve health, wellbeing, social skills and education.
The benefits of routines for children
Routines reduce the need for nagging
Routines help to make clear your expectations of what you would like your child to do and reduces confusion, frustration and the need for you to repeat and shout orders every day. Children get into the habit of doing certain things at certain times. You may know what you would like your child to do, but do they know what you expect of them?
Routines reduce stress and anxiety in children
Because of the constant changes and new experiences in children's lives, having routines can make them feel safer, happier and more confident. They like predictability, knowing what is coming next and therefore being mentally prepared for change - in what they are doing or where they are going. Even young pre-school children benefit from having routines.
Routines for children help to reduce stress in adults
It's not just children who benefit from their routines. Research has found that routines in families made the parents feel more in control and confident with their parenting role. Routines can also improve relationships between parents, other family members and help babysitters and other care providers when they have to step in.
They also help parents to spend more focused time with their children. For example, bedtime can be the trigger to stop working and being distracted by other things and spend quality-focused time calming down from the day and connecting with the kids.
Teaches healthy habits and other health benefits
They teach children the importance of brushing their teeth, their hair, washing their hands and other healthy habits on a regular basis. Research has shown that children from families that follow regular routines get fewer respiratory infections and have stronger immune systems due to reduced stress levels.
Routines help children to become more independent and develop responsibility and self-discipline
Children actually enjoy and thrive on having a structure in their day. Create simple steps for them to follow for mornings, after school and bedtimes. Without the nagging, children start to think more for themselves, take responsibility for getting their tasks done and feel more confident when they accomplish something for themselves. Teach children how to constructively control their day and their environments. Introduce one routine at a time, and add others in once they are comfortable. You can still check on them to make sure that they are doing it correctly, but give them ownership of each task and try not to nag if they are not quite getting the hang of it and make sure you praise them when they are doing well.
Routines help children to understand life balance
There are tasks in life that no-one likes or wants to do. Explain to your children the benefits of doing certain things and what happens if they don't do them. Always end groups of routine tasks with something positive to look forward to.
Tips for implementing new routines for children
▫️ Start off by adding small simple routines and build.
▫️ Make sure all family members are involved and supportive of any routines.
▫️Routines should have some flexibility (timings etc. should be used as a guide). Rigid routines are more likely to fail.
▫️ Create routines that fit in with YOUR family and the personalities of YOUR children, not anyone else's. What works for one family may not necessarily work for yours.