“Children, like the rest of us, handle change best if it is expected and occurs in the context of a familiar routine. A predictable routine allows children to feel safe, and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives.” – Dr. Laura Markham, Aha! Parenting.com
When I was a teacher, I wrote our daily schedule on the white board every morning. Not only did the schedule remind me what I needed to do during the day, but it was also the first thing the children looked for when they entered the classroom.
Believe it or not, children love routines. Routines make them feel secure. Routines give structure to the day. And, best of all, they help cut down on behavior issues because children know what is expected of them. In my class, the activities changed, but the order mostly stayed the same.
When my son entered the terrible two’s, I soon realized I needed routines at home, too. I’d already established my own morning, afternoon, and evening routines. When I became a mother, I had to write down everything because I could no longer remember details. So, I decided to create a morning, afternoon, and evening routine for my son. These routines soon helped us get out of the house faster, they helped me establish good habits for my son (earlier bed time and regular story time, anyone?), and they cut down on his tantrums.
If you’d like to read more about how a morning routine helped me get a stubborn toddler out of the house in the morning, check out this post: Win the Morning, Win the Day
Today, I’m going to highlight the benefits of routines for children and why they can help make parenting a little easier.
1. Routines Provide a Sense of Security in a Changing World
As our children grow, the one constant in their lives is change. They start walking and talking, eating solid foods, and exploring the world. Curiosity drives them. When they become conscious of all these changes, it can be unsettling for them.
- The first day of daycare or preschool is difficult for many children. This is a huge change!
- When our kids start eating solid foods, they began exploring new textures and flavors. Some of these will be rejected. Our kids will start to develop their own preferences and opinions. A strange looking vegetable may suddenly seem scary.
- Sitting on Santa’s lap for a family Christmas photo or meeting a character at Disneyland can be traumatic for small children as well. Why is Mommy making me hug the big, scary animal?
Our children face new experiences every day. If we establish regular morning, afternoon, and bedtime routines, we can provide our children with a sense of security in their changing world. If they know that story time follows bath time and then Mommy or Daddy will tuck them into bed, they’ll be mentally prepared for sleep. And, as any parent knows, this is a big win!
2. Routines Cut Down on Behavior Issues
When children know certain things are expected of them before they get play time or screen time, they’ll complete these tasks without arguing. My sons know they must finish their homework before they get screen time and they’re only allowed screen time while I make dinner. At first, they resisted and complained, but now they’ve accepted this as part of our afternoon routine. They don’t always like it, but there are no longer arguments because the expectations are clear. No homework = no screen time.
If you find yourself battling with your child over homework or chores, try to see if you can incorporate them into a routine. When your expectations are clear, you’ll soon find you have a more cooperative child on your hands. Give it time.
3. Routines Strengthen Family Bonds
Routines don’t all have to be about completing chores and finishing homework. You can build a few fun routines into the week.
Maybe you have popcorn and watch a movie every Friday night. Or, perhaps you start a family game night once a week. Special Saturday breakfast in your pajamas is another routine your children will look forward to with anticipation. Maybe you go out on a family bike ride or play Frisbee at the park every weekend. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as you find something fun for the family to do together on a regular basis.
When you create fun, family routines, you’ll strengthen your family bond. Since so much of our parenting time is taken up with making sure our children get school work done and chores completed, having fun family time will ensure we carve out time to just enjoy being together.
4. Routines Help Our Children Establish Good Habits
Having routines for brushing teeth, cleaning up, doing homework, and making beds will help our children develop good habits. Children who make their beds automatically often continue this practice into adulthood. It becomes less of a chore if it’s part of a routine. Hopefully, the habits we build when our children are young will stick with them in the future.
“The act of automation increases efficiency in your life, by enabling you to do things without consciously thinking about it.”
The same is true for children. Believe me, it works. My children have finally reached a point where they put away their clothes, make their beds and complete all of their morning tasks without any help from me. It takes time and patience to establish effective routines, but soon your children will be able to do these things on their own. Maybe you’ll even be able to stay in bed a little longer on a Saturday morning!
If our children are used to completing difficult assignments before they get free time, we hope they’ll take this work ethic with them to college or use it when they start their first job. We can help our children establish good habits by making them part of a daily routine. These habits will help set them up for success in the future.
5. Routines Help Children Become More Confident
“Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident” – Dr. Peter Gorski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mommd.
Children who are expected to complete chores independently or get themselves ready in the morning know they can handle being independent. The more skills they master, the more confident they become. Routines help build confidence by establishing a consistent time for developing independence each day.
Routines also make our children feel secure. Secure children are more confident and more willing to try new things.
Here’s a summary of five important reasons kids need routines. Routines:
- Provide a sense of security in a changing world
- Cut down on behavior problems and arguments at home
- Strengthen family bonds
- Help children establish good habits
- Inspire confidence
I hope this post inspires you to create some family routines if you haven’t already. Or, if you had them, but allowed them to slip, try posting a routine checklist in your child’s room to get him/her back on track. Remember, routines will make parenting a little easier. And…
Happier parents = Happier kids = Happier families!
Here are the the routines I use with my own children. You can download all three routines with a white background in the link below:
Click on these links for the green background.
Afternoon Routine for Children
Before Bed Routine for Children
For tips on successfully implementing routines with children, check out this post:
Establishing Routines for Children Will Make Your Life as a Parent Easier
To teach your kids to be more independent with a calendar routine, read this post:
7 thoughts on “Why Kids Need Routines – And Parents Do, Too!”
Great post. I don’t have kids, but as an adult, I can attest to the value of routines. Many of the advantages you mentioned apply to adults.
I’m self-employed and work from home. Having a routine keeps me focused and productive.
Thanks, Scott. I agree. The advantages do apply to adults, too. I also work from home. Without routines, I wouldn’t be nearly as productive. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.
Hi and thanks for this really informative post.
You are so right that it is not just young kids that need routine. I am a mother to five children, varying in age from 7 – 17. My 7 year old absolutely needs to know when and what he’ll be doing but my 17 year old who is in year eleven, also really benefits when I sit with her and make a routine schedule each week.
Thanks for the great information
Wow! Five children. You must find routines helpful 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. I appreciate your feedback.
No matter what is your age, a routine must be an important part of our life. It is difficult to get into a routine as adults. That’s why it is important that we start the routine for kids and eventually that helps us to get into a routine too 🙂 thanks for the article.
Thanks, Prav. I agree. It helps to start kids on routines early. Hopefully, by the time they’re adults it will be second nature and definitely and advantage.
Great post. 100% makes sense. When you’re that young, so many things are changing, and you’re constantly learning new things. Having consistency in life can help you focus on what’s going on and what needs done. And that goes for any age, I think. Plus it’s a great foundation for healthy habits as you get older.
It is such a confusing time, especially when they go to school for the first time. What a culture shock, such a confusing and emotional time. I think a great addition to routines before they go to school is to start teaching independence. I agree that confident is essential for children. Having confidence and knowledge on how to do some basic things on their own is going to help them feel less frustrated when they’re sent out semi on their own.
Thanks for the read 🙂