Routines are the benchmark for order and are there to avoid your family descending into chaos! For children, having a routine lets them know what to expect. Without structure to their day, you will notice a difference in their wellbeing and behaviour.
When life is consistent at home, kids feel safe, secure and confident, especially when they face leaps in their development. If you think about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your child with the closure of schools, you may have experienced heightened anxiety and a change of behaviour in your kid.
With that in mind, here’s why we think the right routine can positively affect your kid’s behaviour and health:
A sense of belonging
When life’s predictable, guess what? Kids thrive.
Routines build up confidence in your child – they allow your kid to feel safe, secure and looked after in their home environment. When your child then faces more challenging developmental changes like the birth of a sibling, illness, death, puberty or moving house, they will be more prepared mentally to cope with the turbulence of life.
Routines built around quality family time, foster a sense of belonging and strengthen family relationships. Whether you read a story together before bed, plan a scavenger hunt over the weekend or kick a ball around the garden, all of these moments can be a special time for you and your child.
Routines can limit outbursts
If you have ever been on the receiving end of an epic toddler tantrum or a teen throwdown, then you know how awkward and difficult diffusing that situation can be. Bad behaviour is usually triggered by hunger, tiredness or overstimulation.
When you have a good routine established, your child will be more emotionally prepared for the next task. They’ll know when their next meal is likely to arrive, when naptime is on its way and have a general sense of what their day will look like.
Encourage essential life skills
One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is to teach them essential life skills. The best way to achieve this is to establish a good routine.
Routines give shape to how your kid learns, develops and masters concepts about the world around them. From learning how to independently get dressed in the morning to how to use a kid’s electric toothbrush, learning basic skills starts at home with you.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. The more simple your kid’s daily routine looks like, the more equipped they will be to learn:
- Basic hygiene
- Time management
Establishes healthy sleep patterns
Sleep partnered with raising children is undoubtedly a big taboo amongst parents. You have the babies that sleep well from birth, the ones that like to talk or babble to you at length during the night and the ones that believe sleep is for the weak!
When your kid struggles to sleep or has a rough night, their mental wellbeing and behaviour are likely to be impacted. Overtired, irritable and just plain grumpy children tend not to enjoy the rest of their day. So what can you do to ensure they have a good night’s sleep?
Establish a consistent bedtime routine:
- Stick to a bedtime – you can’t argue with that!
- Have a soak in the tub before bed – the warm water has a magic sleep-inducing effect on most children, and parents too! When you step out of the bath, your body’s core temperature quickly cools down and triggers your body and mind to prepare for sleep—pure magic!
- Don’t forget about oral hygiene – make sure your kid brushes their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Don’t just expect them to know how to do it by themselves. Guide them, teach them and show them how to brush their teeth. Most children need supervision until they are seven or eight years old before they conquer the skill.
- Storytime – not only are you encouraging your child’s language development and understanding of the world around them, but reading is a special bonding moment too.
- Say goodnight and dim the lights – children should be asleep within 15-20 minutes of you leaving them alone.
Despite perfecting your bedtime routine, some kids struggle to sleep without knowing you are around. Some might even need you in the room with a hand on their back or want you to lie down next to them. We all know that this isn’t sustainable for either of you. Fortunately, practitioners have been recommending weighted blankets for years.
Designed to imitate a warm hug, a weighted blanket uses deep pressure stimulation to help your child fall asleep quicker and for longer. They get all the benefits of touch without you losing your precious evenings in the process.
Boundaries and expectations
When children are given specific responsibilities, it encourages them to feel a sense of accomplishment. If you ask them to put their laundry in the basket or set the table, on the surface, it may seem like a tedious task, but in reality, you are setting boundaries and expectations.
For younger children, a sticker reward chart might be the answer to getting them on board. A shiny sticker is like a precious jewel to a child, after all!
Made your bed? That’s a sticker for you! Brushed your teeth? Put your toys away? Washed your hands? Sticker, sticker, sticker!
Realistic expectations reinforce that sense of belonging we talked about earlier. You are all in it together, and you are working as a family within your routines.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of having a routine for your child is that it offers stability and a constant during uncertain life moments. When the world around you is out of control and unpredictable, your kid can rely on having a safe place at home.
While none of us can control what happens outside of our homes, your child’s routine will instil a sense of normality that your kid may struggle to find elsewhere. What’s more, your kid will feel like they belong and know what is expected of them!