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The advantages to incorporating structure and routine into the lives of children, and hence into overall family life, are many. Left on their own, many children lack emotional and impulse control, and/or they are unable to maintain themselves within safe boundaries. Not only can this lead to a potentially dangerous situation for a child, having little to no guardrails during a person's youth often leads them to live at least semi-chaotic lives as an adult, since they never learned the value of consistent behavior, routine, and delayed gratification.
Conversely, when children are given a routine and a structure in which to grow, it lays the foundation for feelings of safety and security. With the boundaries and limits that a routine provides, children then learn to explore different activities and feelings in safety. Over the years, these boundaries are gradually opened, eventually allowing children to embark on their own by successfully employing the mental, physical, and emotional skills they learned during their formative years.
There is actual science behind the notion that having a daily routine is beneficial for a child's brain development. There is also practical evidence that raising a child with established boundaries and a daily routine is very helpful to a child's mental and emotional development. Establishing a daily routine can help in a myriad of ways including
Having a daily routine teaches many valuable life lessons such as time management, prioritizing tasks vs fun activities, and making time to connect with loved ones. These types of lessons learned in childhood help prepare kids for success later on in life when they will be challenged to meet the demands of work, family, and community life.
Bedtime — Establishing a regular bedtime can be a pivotal factor in determining the quality of the next day. To start, select a specific time when everyone in the family understands it's time to start winding down and prepare for bedtime. The night before is a good time for kids to select their clothing for the next day and make sure their school books, notes, lunches, etc. are in order. Having a bedtime ritual such as story time, along with a goodnight kiss and a hug helps children make the transition from daytime to bedtime, and offers both parents and their children a time to express their affection for each other.
Mornings — Performing most of the morning routine tasks the night before allows families to feel organized and already on top of their upcoming day. It also helps provide sufficient time to prepare a solid, nutritious breakfast to sustain a child's appetite until lunchtime.
Evenings — Eating dinner together most evenings and having a nightly homework review time is a great way for family members to reconnect with each other. Getting into the habit of turning off the TV and all computer devices during dinner, helps children develop listening skills and manners by learning the importance of staying connected with others, rather than obsessing over technology.
Positively reviewing a child's homework helps children understand the importance of why they are going to school. It's also a time parents can use to learn what subjects interest their child, so they can provide other learning tools that will develop the talents of their child. Reviewing homework and talking about what they learned in school can also help parents discern areas where their child may need extra help, either academically or interpersonally with fellow students.
Establishing a daily routine doesn't mean a child won't be successful in life unless parents schedule every minute of their child's day. Often it's the minor gesture that children remember such as a secret handshake before departing for school, that established the loving, positive memory they look back on as an adult. If you'd like more practical tips on how to establish a successful daily routine in your child's life, please contact us.