One of the most important things that you can do to make your young child feel safe is to establish as much routine as possible.
Children (and adults) feel the most secure when their lives are predictable. When adults provide environments that feel safe, children learn that they can trust others to take care of them and meet their needs, so they become free to relax and explore their world.
Daily routines might include:
- The time to get ready in the morning
- Bath times, mealtimes, naptimes and bedtimes
- Housework, cooking and cleaning schedules
- Play time, family time and outdoor play
When you include meaningful and important elements into your family life, you are letting your child know what is important.
Here are 10 reasons a daily routine is important for your child:
1. Helps your child get on a schedule
- Consistent routine will help your child with many day-to-day basics such as:
- Taking naps and sleep well at night
- Eating healthy, full meals
- Playing and spending time outside
- Calm, relaxed behavior at “down times” during the day
2. Strengthens the family unit
When a child knows what to expect and notices regular family activities, they begin to understand what is important. This strengthens shared values, beliefs and interests.
3. Establishes expectations
Rather than having a power struggle about picking up toys at the end of the day or taking a bath, a child becomes accustomed to knowing when “pick up time” and “bath time” are.
4. Creates a less stressful household
Because the child, and other family members, know what to expect, stress and anxiety are reduced.
5. Gives your child confidence and independence
With a routine, a child learns over time when it’s time to brush their teeth or put on their pajamas. They will take pride in knowing what they are supposed to do – and doing it by themselves.
6. Establishes healthy, constructive habits
From brushing teeth regularly to completing homework every afternoon, routines help establish constructive habits.
7. Helps you as the parent remember important things
Whether it’s ensuring your child picks up toys every day or remembering to pay the bills every month, a routine helps you stay on track.
8. Offers your child an opportunity to get excited about what’s ahead
If your child knows what’s on the schedule, they anticipate and look forward to future events – such as going to the park on Friday afternoons or spending time with friends on Saturday afternoons.
9. Provides opportunity for special “daily rituals”
When you build something into your day, like snuggling and reading to your child before bed, you instill special moments or “daily rituals.”
10. Offers stability during times of change or stress
Changes and stresses impact a toddler's life and sense of security, such as a divorce, change in a school system or addition of a new sibling.
A routine is especially important during particularly stressful times of day, such as bedtime or getting dressed in the morning. When there is a routine in place, there can be little argument because the expectations for behavior are taken for granted, even with toddlers and preschoolers. A major benefit of establishing routines is that you will cut down on stress for yourself.
Here are additional ideas for starting a routine in your home:
- Plan at least one meal per day that you have together as a family. This meal does not have to be dinner; even a 15-minute breakfast where everyone gets to share their plans for the day can be effective. Turn off the television and do not answer the phone during your family time.
- Have a bedtime ritual. Think about what calms your child. Is it taking a bath? Reading a story? Listening to soft music? A great item to include in the bedtime ritual is that of talking about your day. Let your child talk about the day. This part of the routine not only helps children with memory, time orientation, and language skills, but it also shows them that you care about what they did that day.
- Include preparation for transitions in the routine. For example, say, “We have 10 minutes left before we start getting ready for bed. When the big hand gets to the 12, it will be time to put on your pajamas.”
The earlier that you begin to order your child’s life, the easier it will be. When you stick to a routine, you teach your child how to arrange time in a manner that is efficient, productive, and helps eliminate stress.
Established routines at T’s Learning Center, the top childcare provider in Jacksonville and surrounding areas, deliver the security and predictability your preschoolers and toddlers needs when away from home. Our staff is here to support your child in an environment that encourages spontaneity while ensuring safety and comfort.