Routines, are they worth it?
Should you implement routines with your child?
Kids benefit greatly from daily routines. In their daily lives, kids feel more at ease and protected when things are consistent and predictable. Not only do you as parents benefit from routines, but you also rely on them heavily throughout the day.
Take, for example, if you are a working mom and have to start working at a certain time. For that to happen, other things in your morning routine have to happen a certain way. Your alarm goes off at a specific time; you get up, get dressed, drink coffee, get your child ready, pack your and their lunchboxes, drop them off, or wait for the caretaker to arrive. I’m sure if anything is out of place in that routine, your day will feel off balance, and you might be late for work.
By implementing a routine you are able to plan and predict a child’s day, so that you can focus on other elements of caregiving.
Engaging, predictable environments and ongoing positive adult-child interactions are necessary for promoting children’s social and emotional development and preventing challenging behaviours. You can help by following clear and simple schedules and routines.(Hemmeter, Ostrosky, and Fox, 2006).
According to research, routines support early infant social and emotional development. Children who grow up in homes with routines are more likely to have the self-regulation abilities that are the foundation of good mental health. Children who learn to control their emotions and behaviors are able to recognize their emotions and have the tools necessary to control them so they don’t become overwhelmed. Young children who learn to do this successfully are better equipped to cope with the stresses of daily life and adjust to new expectations. This is a skill that kids gradually acquire. Self-regulation is a collection of abilities that develops over time, much like other critical abilities such as reading and writing do for young learners.
What is the difference between a schedule and a routine?
A schedule outlines the day’s main events and shows the big picture.
Routines are the steps that must be taken to finish each part of a schedule.
Why do kids need to have routines?
When we look at how a child grows and changes, it’s important to keep in mind that they can start forming “habits” or rhythms at a young age. Some kids start forming rhythms even before they go to school. In fact, one of the best things you can do at home to help your child form good rhythms is something you can do yourself. Routines teach kids to get along with their family and friends in different ways.
A feeling of security
Routines help your child deal with change by showing them that even if some things change out of the blue, they can still expect their routine to be predictable. This creates a feeling of stability and consistency.
Toddlers are known to not always have good control of their emotions. So, routines give them a sense of organization and order, which helps them learn how to take charge of themselves. This helps kids know what to expect and lets them know that they can control how they feel. This will help them learn how to deal with challenges and stressful situations without getting too upset.
Make connections and relationships.
Routines help kids figure out who they are and how they want to be in the world. They give them a sense of identity and help them build strong relationships with the people they care about. If you respond in a certain way every day as part of the routine it creates security and they can anchor their day to these
Learn a variety of skills.
While kids may not be aware of all the steps in a routine at a younger age, over the following years, it will help them to develop a range of skills as their routine unfolds. E.g. By organizing and cleaning their room, kids will learn how to take care of their things, and by implementing a regular self-care routine, they will learn how to take care of themselves. By playing games, they might also learn how to talk to other people or make friends.
Reaching a certain level of independence
Children naturally develop a sense of autonomy and a desire to take on more responsibility as they get older. If you and your child establish a weekly routine for cleaning his room, for instance, he may eventually stop asking for your help and do it on his own. The more independence a child is given, the more confident he or she will become.
Which routines are most important from 0–5 years old?
- Morning Routine
We always suggest trying to wake your baby or child up at the same time each day. Especially while doing sleep coaching with us. It’s crucial to help set their internal body clock. For an older child, you can help them by creating a visual routine chart with pictures and steps. The benefits of this are endless! Once everyone knows the morning routine and what needs to be done, there will be less rushing, more peace, and less shouting and chasing.
2. Bedtime routine and naptime routine
By now, you should know how important a bedtime routine is if you want your kids to have the best possible sleep! At bedtime, the longest separation between caregiver and child takes place, so we need our children to feel especially safe, connected, and secure during this routine. How do you get your child into a bedtime routine? [READ MORE HERE]
A nap-time routine involves doing the same specific steps during the 15 minutes before a nap every single time so that they know what is coming next and their bodies remain calm.
- A feeding routine
With the exception of feeding on demand during the first few weeks of your baby’s life [READ MORE HERE], Establishing a good milk and solids routine ensures that your child gets the necessary nutrition for optimal growth and development. You cannot force your kids to eat, but you have control over what you offer and when you offer it. A proper meal before the longer lunchtime nap ensures that your child will sleep well, and the same goes for bedtime.
You can follow an E.A.S.Y routine with your newborn baby too.
- A sleep routine
By establishing an age-appropriate nap and bedtime routine, you set your child up for success. From about 6 months, we suggest moving over from awake windows to more set nap times because these cues can become confusing (e.g., a yawn can mean over-stimulation or tiredness). Also, by helping them sleep at certain times, their bodies are used to sleeping at those times, and it’s easier for them to fall asleep.
We also know things change, and it’s important to still have some flexibility. That is why we love using the 80:20 rule. If things are constant 80% of the time, it’s normal to be flexible 20% of the time.
Try to keep the smaller steps the same if possible, and as your child gets older, explain to them ahead of time how things are going to be different.
It’s also important to try and offer a smaller choice in the activities or steps of a routine when possible and age-appropriate.
Hemmeter, Mary Louise; Michaelene Ostrosky, and Lise Fox. “Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning: A Conceptual Model for Intervention.” School Psychology Review 35(4) (2006): 583–601.
Arlinghaus KR, Johnston CA. The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2018 Dec 29;13(2):142-144. doi: 10.1177/1559827618818044. PMID: 30800018; PMCID: PMC6378489.
Mindell JA, Williamson AA. Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyond. Sleep Med Rev. 2018 Aug;40:93-108. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2017.10.007. Epub 2017 Nov 6. PMID: 29195725; PMCID: PMC6587181.
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