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If you’re a parent, you probably already know that kids thrive on routine. Many of use look on in awe at those families who seem to have it all together. In reality, every family is different and every child is too. Rather than being stifling, routines can help manage behavior, ensure their needs are being met and give them regular time to play, relax and do other activities.
It’s important for general family life that there is a certain amount of routine. This will differ from family to family depending on a number of factors.
So why are routines good for children and how can you help establish new ones?
A Sense of Safety
Children might seem like barely contained chaos on legs, but the fact is, routine helps ground them and feel safe in a predictable environment. Sure, they’re probably going to fight you every step of the way to do what they want to do, but it you were to give them free reign, then this lack of structure would ultimately make them feel less safe and sure of themselves. Familiarity and house rules for kids can provide comfort and help build relationships with family, friends and other caregivers.
During times of upheaval, such as a house move, new child or bereavement, then trying to stick to a normal routine can become even more important.
The way to get better at something is to do it over and over again? Routine allows children to practice everyday skills such as getting dressed, brushing their teeth, reading or writing.
As time goes on, you can add variety to this.
A good routine incorporates time for meals, snack, exercise, sleep and hygiene. Repeating these on a regular basis has great long term health benefits for children. For example, a good bed time routine ensures children are rested, improving their energy levels, school performance and mood. Learning to wash hands before meals or after using the toilet can prevent the transmission of germs and diseases.
Benefits To Parents/Carers
Strong routines are important for families as a whole. Modern life can feel quite overwhelming at times. After all you may be dealing with work, parenting, additional caring responsibilities, school work, relationships, hobbies and more. Add to that you need to run a household too.
A routine can make you feel like you have more of a handle on things, reducing stress and anxiety. Routines also reinforce quality family time, by carving out specific routines around spending time together.
There’s no one size fits all approach to creating family routines. It really does depend on many things. Some people thrive on having very intricate routines, others prefer a slightly looser structure, where certain things are planned but the rest is more flexible.
Remember, these routines can have both immediate and lasting benefits for your children, so it is well worth the effort of putting them in place and letting them evolve with you as a family.