The importance of routines for children
A child’s day is punctuated by routines – actions and events that occur in the same order and often at the same time each day. The more predictable their daily routine, the more secure your child feels.
Sense of security and autonomy
Routines provide some of your child’s basic needs (sleep, hygiene, meals, etc.). But routines go beyond physical care. They help your child feel secure, learn to take care of his or her body and assert him or herself.
Clearly established routines reassure your child because they let him or her know what’s coming and where he or she stands in time. For example, a bedtime routine can help a child fall asleep because it takes a calm and confident attitude to fall asleep. When a child knows the steps of the pre-sleep routine, he or she will fall asleep more easily because he or she feels safe.
You can talk to your child during the routines to put words to the rituals and their purpose. For example, “It feels better when you’ve eaten well! ” or “It’s nice to have clean hands, they smell good! “
Depending on the child’s age, daily routines can take up to 40% of the time.
Through routines, a child gradually learns to take care of himself: he goes to the bathroom by himself, washes his hands, brushes his teeth, gets dressed, etc. For example, with a morning routine, your child understands that he must first get dressed, then eat breakfast and brush his teeth. They feel more in control because they know what to do and in what order. This helps him develop his independence. It also gives them a sense of pride.
You also help your child develop independence when you let him make choices during routines. For example, you can offer two sweaters and let them choose which one to wear. Giving your child a choice, even a small one, can make it easier for him to participate. Depending on his age, he may even be able to put on his sweater by himself. If he’s younger, you can let him put it on partly and help him if he needs it.
By letting him dress himself, at least partially, you are helping him to develop his coordination skills. Plus, he feels proud to do things with less and less help.
In daycare, children also use routines to develop their social skills. For example, they gradually learn to wait their turn to go to the sink.
Home and child care: two routines
Generally, children do not find it difficult to have one routine at home and another at the daycare. They adapt to the way things are done in each environment and understand the differences when you explain them to them. However, some toddlers may react strongly to certain times of the day, such as nap time or mealtime. If this is the case with your child, talk to your child care provider to make the necessary changes to make the routines more similar in both settings. This similarity in rituals will certainly reassure your child.
Secrets to a good routine
You can take advantage of different times of the day to set up routines. Some of the most important ones are the morning routine (what to do before leaving) and the evening routine (what to do before going to bed). But you can also make other daily activities easier by setting up routines, such as mealtimes and putting toys away.
It’s never too late to set up a routine
If you haven’t really established routines with your child, it’s not too late to do so. Your child may be a little resistant at first, especially if he’s used to deciding what to do. But with patience, you can establish routines. You can start with the bedtime routine since it has different steps and the sequence is easy for your child to understand: putting on the pajamas after the bath, reading the story before bedtime, etc.
Here are some tips for developing effective routines:
Be consistent. The routine should be done the same way every day at the same time. Agree with the other parent to follow the same routine.
Keep it simple. Don’t put too many steps to the routine so your child can easily remember what to do.
Be flexible. A good routine should adapt to your child’s development. For example, if your child is now able to tie his coat on his own, this small task can be added to his morning routine before leaving for daycare or school.
Be a role model. Show your child that you also follow certain routines. For example, when it’s time to clean up, you can clean up the kitchen while your child puts away his toys.
Involve your child. If your child feels that he or she has some control over his or her routine, he or she will be more likely to participate. For example, ask your child if he wants his story before or after bath time. On the other hand, if he doesn’t follow the routine, he needs to know that there will be a consequence. For example, if he refuses to pick out his clothes for the next day, he needs to understand that you will be making the decision for him.
Make routines fun. To help your child remember and follow the routine, put fun pictures on a board that show him what to do. You can also associate a song with a routine. For example, sing the same song over and over again when it’s time to tidy up or wash their hands.
Benefits of routines at school
Through routines, your child learns to be organized and to develop ways of doing things that can be used at school. For example, getting dressed on their own to go outside, washing their hands after going to the bathroom, and putting away their toys when they’re done playing.
When your child has a routine at home, he or she will also have an easier time following directions at school and getting along with others. In addition, a child who feels safe and confident with routines will be more available to learn things in class.