On Route to Routines
Why is it important to have established routines at home?
Routines are customs or habits we create for convenience in our day-to-day life, which we always perform in the same way. Just like adults, children need routines that help them be organized. When a child is born, s/he doesn’t know the order of things nor how the world around them is organized. As adults, it is our responsibility to teach our children to be organized through stable schedules associated to routines, that is, through activities performed every day in the same manner. It is possible for children who lack a routine to be irritable, restless, anxious, impulsive, aggressive, and to have difficulty concentrating and run the risk of being incorrectly diagnosed with certain mental disorders, such as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Establishing a routing implies daily repetition of the same. Children are fearful of the unknown and need predictability in order to feel safe, and routines help them feel comfortable and stabilize their behavior. Daily rituals help children to build a scheme and internal order of the world. Something as simple as bathing a child before bed time will increase the chances of a good night’s sleep.
It’s fundamental to instill daily routines in children since they’re little, so they know what to do at all times, what rules must be obeyed, and learn to get organized in their daily lives. It’s not necessary to be excessively rigid with these habits and routines as much as constant, because this will help the child to learn them and will foster responsibility, self-control, and independence.
What routines are important for a child to learn?
The main routines that should be taught to children are:
Meals: children should always eat at the same times and a place must be set for this. This will teach them that they should not snack between meals, nor eat anywhere (in bed, while playing, etc.).
Homework: there should be a time and a place designated at the house for the child to do homework. This will foster completion of homework in itself as the child grows.
Sleep: it’s convenient for children to go to bed at regular times and avoid activities that stimulate them before bed time (sugar, computer, videogames, play before bed, TV in child’s room, among others).
Hygiene: habits such as washing hands before coming to the table, brushing teeth after meals, or a warm bath before bed.