Routines help eliminate power struggles and give all family members ways to belong and contribute to the family.
The benefits of routines are security, a calmer atmosphere, trust, and life skills for children. Children have an opportunity to focus on the needs of the situation. Children learn to be responsible for their own behavior, to feel capable, and to cooperate in the family. Routines help children become more independent.
Children generally respond favorably to routines, especially younger children. Once a routine is in place, the routine becomes the boss and the parent doesn’t have to continually demand help. Once a child has an established routine they can follow it. If they forget what they’re doing you can say, “What is next on your chart?
Visual schedules are a great way to show a child a routine. Schedules can be words, drawings, or actual pictures of someone doing the task. Canva (www.canva.com) is a great way to make your own schedule. You can also use phone apps. An app that I like to use is Visual Schedules and Social Stories. It has pre-made routines in the app that can be edited to fit your needs.
Set routines through kind and firm parenting. For example, build a routine around bedtime. When your child protests a step in the routine or wants to do something, not in the routine, you can be kind and firm by validating their feelings and stating the routine. As children get older they can assist in making the routine. For example, children can help decide their daily routine-when they will get their chores done, when they will have free time, etc.
When making a routine have a deadline. Work backward from that deadline. For example, if your child has to be in bed by 8:00, think through all the tasks that have to be done during the routine, and work backward. This will give you the time that you should start the routine.
Routines can be done with the whole family or as individuals. For example, The whole family may clean the house together on a certain day and time. Each family member is assigned a room or a certain chore and everyone starts and ends at the same time. Another way to do this is to assign each family member a chore list and they can do it whenever they want before a certain time. Remember to have deadlines on routines to make sure they are followed and get completed.
When making a routine keep it simple. Don't overcomplicate it by having too many steps. I once had a bedtime routine for my children that had way too many steps for them. They didn't have the attention span to complete it. We were not consistent in doing the routine because it was so frustrating. I cut the routine by half and now we are more likely to actually do it. It’s easier to be consistent with a routine if it is simple.
What are your experiences with routines? What works well for you?