Most of us are aware that having some sort of routine is necessary to have a functional family life. Kids need routines throughout their growing-up years, not just when they’re infants or toddlers. Keeping activities in a consistent sequence helps both parents and kids manage their daily needs, including food, hygiene, sleep, and homework.
Kids may fight routine, but it helps them have a sense of consistency and security. Here are some tips for helping your child stick to a routine:
Use pictures. Connecting visuals with a listed routine can help kids remember it better, especially if they’re visual-spatial learners. For example, if you want to start a new morning routine for summer break, use a pre-made poster, printable, or your own doodles to indicate what each item on the list represents. This also helps pre-readers follow a routine on their own.
Use timers. Some kids do well with the motivation of a timer. If your child is having trouble completing her routine, a timer can help her pace herself. It can also provide a limit for activities such as screen time.
Follow the two S’s: short and simple. Routines can naturally get longer and more complex as kids get older. If you’re just starting make, keep it very doable to give your child a chance to get used to new habits.
Rewards: yes or no? Consider using positive reinforcement of some sort. Even the simple act of getting to check an item off a list or put a sticker on a chart can feel rewarding. Don’t make rewards too elaborate or it may be too hard to keep up with. A simple action kids might enjoy is writing each step in their routine on a craft stick and keeping them in a small container. When they complete that step, they can move the craft stick to another container (source).
Allow margin. Routines and free time have to go hand in hand in order for anyone, kids especially, to have a sense of balance. Kids will thrive on the combination of a simple routine and unstructured time to cultivate their imaginations.
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