We live in an ever-changing world. Even in our small family units, change is constant: we get new jobs, move to different houses, shift from face-to-face learning to school-from-home, switch babysitters, have another child. Although change is a necessary part of life, it can be a stressful experience for children (and adults too!).
A daily routine helps create a safe and secure environment for your kids. Children thrive on structure, because it helps them anticipate and prepare for what’s going to happen next. A routine can give your kids something to count on in an increasingly unpredictable world—even if it’s just knowing that bathtime happens at 7 pm every night.
The consistency of a routine also helps children build healthy habits. Repetition reinforces habits, and good habits develop your child’s ability to self-regulate in a healthy way. As Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, Charles Duhigg, wrote in his book, The Power of Habit:
…”signing kids up for piano lessons or sports…has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a five-year-old soccer star. When you learn to force yourself to practice for an hour or run fifteen laps, you start building self-regulatory strength. A five-year-old who can follow the ball for ten minutes becomes a sixth grader who can start his homework on time.”
Want to know more about the power of routine? Here are five benefits your child gets from following a daily schedule:
- Strong circadian rhythm. Our body clocks are wired to wake up when there’s sunlight and go to sleep when it’s dark. Determine set times for getting up, eating, bathing, studying, playing, and relaxing. Explain to your child that in order to maintain a healthy body, we need to give it the structure that it needs.
- Healthy self-direction. It’s important for parents and caregivers to include their children in creating a routine at home. It helps them practice independence and self-direction, as well as allows them to express what’s important to them. Does your child feel like they simply must go on a bike ride everyday? Find a way to pencil that into your schedule.
- Quality time with family. Making room for time to eat together, play together, and rest together gives your whole family an opportunity to bond. Having stable and happy family relationships during childhood will help your kids learn to develop and cultivate stable and happy relationships as adults.
- The ability to plan ahead. A routine not only allows us to anticipate pleasant future events (i.e. an afternoon swim or weekend movie nights), but it also gives us the discipline to plan ahead. Self-regulation is so important—it develops your child’s ability to submit homework on time in childhood and meet work deadlines in adulthood.
- The propensity to cope with stress. Charles Duhigg also says that sooner or later, our habits become auto-pilot responses. We do them without thinking. As kids grow older, it’s crucial that they learn how to cope with stressful situations and difficult transitions. If your child knows that no matter what happens, they have their routine and habits to fall back on—they’ll feel healthy, safe, and secure.
In a continually changing world, it’s our responsibility as parents and caregivers to provide a stable environment for our children to thrive in. If you need more tips on how to build healthy habits with your kids, you can download my free ebook, 7 Strategies to Keeping Your Relationship with Your Kid From Hitting the Boiling Point.