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Why Children Need Routines

I received a very interesting e-mail regarding children and routines from a blog called Not Just Cute and thought that it had some great information that I would like to share with parents.

Being a Family Day Care Educator I am very aware of how important routines are for children (and for me). They know what to expect and can more-or-less figure out how their day is going to pan out.  I have had many parents walk through my door complaining about their child’s behaviour and after discussing it with them, over a cup of tea, the behaviour (most of the time) was a direct result of a poorly structured routine. Have a read and let me know what you think.

“Why Children Need Routines

We’ve all experienced those days when we have set out a plan and nothing seems to work out!  Every expectation we have seems to be superceded by a more urgent need or simply driven out of the schedule altogether by events we cannot control.  Those days are so frustrating!  Children experience similar frustration when we do not provide them with consistent routines.  The chaos and disappointment of their day can be overwhelming, and is often manifest through undesirable behaviors.

Children have an inner drive for autonomy, and yet most of their day is essentially run by adults.  This conflict can lead to worry and power-struggles.  Having predictable routines in place helps to reduce anxiety and defiance and promote independence, and generally just makes things go more smoothly.  As with any situation, behavior improves when a child knows what to expect, and what is expected.

Types of Routines to Consider

Routines often surround events that meet our basic needs.  Consider the routines surrounding mealtimes, bedtimes, and self-care.  Don’t forget that children also have a need for love and affection, which is often built-in to our routines as well with ritualistic snuggles, hugs, and kisses.  These essential tasks become routine, not only because they happen so regularly, but the routineness also ensures the child that those needs will be met. There is a sense of security in that consistency.  If there is a routine surrounding lunchtime, a child is less likely to be anxious about whether or not he will get enough to eat this afternoon.

Parents, consider the routines and rituals that surround bedtimes and naptimes, as well as wakings.  What aspects of self-care is your child ready to be in charge of?  Should she be brushing her own teeth in the morning while you still help at night?  If so, being consistent in this routine will prevent arguments over whose turn it is tonight.  Are there other responsibilities or chores (bed-making, clearing dishes, etc.) that your child is now ready to take over?  Is there a particularly difficult part of your day that could be simplified with a more specific, consistent routine?  This could include a routine for placing shoes and bags in a designated area upon returning home, a routine for cleaning up playthings, or for how and when you host playdates.  Routines help to make these behaviors habit, and cause less worry about what will happen “next time”.

Click here to read the full post.

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