Creating routines and rituals to help your child
- Encourage healthy habits and co-operation
Routines are the simple steps that you and your child can follow to organise your daily life. They include things like mealtimes and bedtimes.
Children understand the concept of routine at an early age. They learn through everyday experiences and doing things with their families. Each family is unique so you can have your own set of routines and rituals, which reflect your identity, culture, and shared values.
Rituals are often associated with celebrations, traditions, religious observances, and symbolic events. They create opportunities to bond and connect as a family - for example, the way you celebrate birthdays, or take a picture on the first day of school. And they can help hold families together.
Children are faced with change daily as their bodies and minds are constantly growing and developing. Many children (and adults!) handle change best if it is expected, and when it happens in the context of a familiar routine.
A predictable routine can help your child feel safe and develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives. This sense of mastery is strengthened over time and they then learn how to manage bigger challenges, like moving to a different year group, walking to school on their own, or going to a sleepover.
Routines provide family members with consistency, trust and stability. And there’s scientific evidence showing that routines contribute to physical and mental health by helping to establish healthy habits and reducing stress levels. For example, having regular routines can help children fall asleep more easily at night.
With a consistent routine in place, parents are more likely to stick to healthy expectations for everyone in the family, because that’s ‘just how we do things’ in our family. In this way, children also learn to cooperate. They know what to expect and they learn to do things without constant reminders. All this can help them feel more competent and independent.
Activities such as brushing teeth, turning off the TV, getting ready for bed to come to dinner are just what happens at specific times each day. Children who feel more in control are less likely to be oppositional and say no to what you ask. As a result, routines can help to eliminate power struggles.
For more advice on oppositional behaviour see: My Child Says No To Everything.
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