When things are predictable and consistent, children feel a sense of security and comfort in knowing what’s happening in their world. Routines, using the same sequence of events or doing things at same time every day, are a great solution to this problem as they help children transition through different environments and anticipate change.
Routines can be used for all types of things such as meal times, bath and bed times, outings, family times and getting ready in the morning for child care, kinder or school. And of course, some flexibility will also assist to manage all your child’s activities throughout the day.
Routines reduce the friction to get things done
When children are familiar with ‘what’s next’ they are able to mentally prepare for the next part of the day and are not overwhelmed by sudden and unexpected turn of events. As a result they will cope better with transitions from one activity to another.
A great example of this is using a ‘warm warning’ system leading to an event, giving a 5 minute warm warning before leaving the park as opposed to just packing up and leaving without notice. Warm warnings give the child time to prepare for the transition and help them cope with the change.
Routines are also fantastic to get children used to doing things they might not always want to do – like taking a shower or going to bed. A family who has set routines find that the ‘struggle’ between the parents and child are lessened through routine times, creating a calmer, more relaxed home.
Routines provide multiple benefits for children’s wellbeing
Consistent routines also help your child align their ‘body clock’ which directly impacts their eating habits, regular toileting, sleeping and naps, play time and relaxed, calm down times. It can also assist in eliminating the anxiety driven tantrums, as they are prepared in advance for things to change.
As well as helping with the physical health of your child, routines are also a great support of a child’s emotional and social wellbeing. For example, in the unfortunate event of a stressful or traumatic time, already established routines provide safety, security and normalcy. Children use the routines to keep them grounded and feel normal in what can be a very upsetting and unsettling period.
Routines help children be confident and independent
It is important to set habits from an early age to provide children with a sense of security, consistency and independence. Once children reach primary school, routines will be the way of life for the majority of their childhood and well into adulthood.
Having a set routine gives children the confidence to do tasks on their own. Getting dressed by themselves or brushing their own teeth further increases their self-assurance, encouraging their independence to grow too.
Remember to be flexible too!
Whilst routine and consistency is a great way for children to feel safe and secure, there is also great importance in being flexible. Progressive routines help to factor in developmental changes over a period of time and also help parents to react and adapt to the current situation at hand. Progressive routines work well with our fluid life.
Spontaneity and positive unexpected events provide families with the opportunity to engage in fun and exciting experiences together. Progressively adding to your child’s routine is a wonderful way to help your child thrive, while having a strong foundation to continue to build upon.