Recently the lead teachers at the National Home’s Early Education Childcare Center held an evening seminar for parents to help them learn more about the importance of establishing routines for their children.
Parents who attended wrote down their successes and areas where they needed guidance and new ideas.
Utilizing resources from AHAParenting.com, the teachers laid out the basics on why kids need routines. Children who come from chaotic homes often struggle to learn how to learn that life runs more smoothly when you are organized. Structure allows us to internalize constructive habits.
What it comes down to, is humans are afraid of the “unknown”, and little humans face a lot of unknowns in their lives. This can include everything from a suspicious new vegetable to a major change in their life. These changes provide opportunities for growth but are also stressful!
Children are dealing with the physical changes in their bodies as they grow, tackling new skills, and absorbing information at an astounding pace. It’s easiest for them if these changes are occurring in the context of a familiar routine. It provides children with a sense of safety and autonomy. Unexpected changes can erode that sense of safety and leave a child feeling anxious. Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively manage themselves and their environments.
The teachers went over several benefits to using routines with children including:
Eliminating power struggles
Helping kids cooperate
Helping kids take charge of their own activities
Learning the concept of “looking forward” to things they enjoy
Getting them used to a schedule
Helping parents build in precious connection moments
The most important and often hardest element of establishing and maintaining routines is consistency and predictability. Children are generally calmer when they know what is expected of them. Even though being consistent can be a challenge for parents, it drastically reduces fights and aggression from children and helps them be more independent and develop self-confidence, self-discipline, and patience.
Some guidelines National Home parents were given for providing consistent, predictable routines were:
When working to change routines, focus on one or two problem areas/behaviors….it can be too overwhelming to overhaul the entire household and its rules at once! One step at a time!
As a parent, look over the household routines to pinpoint trouble times for the family, or for yourself, and think of ways to tackle this struggle.
Make sure you have all parents/caregivers on the same page with rules and routines. Success is a team effort! It is okay to try switching things around, or having the opposite parent take over part of the routine.
Don’t over talk. Decide on consequences/rewards and mean them! Limit the number of warnings. It is better to act on what you say and deal with the tantrum in the short term than to un-teach an unwanted behavior!
Sometimes life happens and you can’t always do things the same, but EEC staff encouraged parents to get back on track as quickly as possible.
Lastly, the EEC staff left the parents in attendance with some tips regarding follow-through, showing that you mean what you say!
Have a plan!
Think carefully before threatening, setting up a consequence or offering a reward.
Have your child help in coming up with the plan.
Be very clear about your expectations. Stay away from vague or hard to accomplish goals.
Then for a little dose of reality, be prepared for things to get worse before they get better. Make a plan together and stick to it! And remember, you’re never alone!
After the presentation, the parents and their children put together routine calendars for them to take home.