Building and maintaining consistency and routine can help you and your child get through each day and week smoothly.
Routines and structure help children know what to expect, learn from their environment, and feel safe. It also helps boost independence. Clear expectations and routines can also minimize the chances of a child misbehaving or acting out, and can help parents from having to repeat themselves over and over because the child will learn what to do, when to do it, and how to do it through the process of the routine.
Have a child-friendly weekly schedule. Make a visual, easy-to-read chart that tells your child what will happen every day. The chart can be as simple as one or two pictures a day to remind your child of what is generally happening that day. For example, if your child goes to preschool on Mondays and Wednesdays, draw a picture that represents preschool on the Monday and Wednesday boxes on the chart. Put the chart someplace where your child can easily see it. Talk about the schedule in preparation for the day or week ahead.
Make a routine for your everyday activities. Even if you have different activities throughout the week, some of them will always be the same – like getting up in the morning, going to bed, and cleaning up. For those parts of the day, make a routine of it, or a clear expected pattern. For example, every morning your child will wake up, brush his teeth, comb his hair, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Having the same pattern of expected behavior and tasks will allow your child to learn what to do more independently.
Put reminders up. Your child’s everyday routines will go a lot smoother if you have clear reminders of what is expected with them every time. For example, put your child’s shoes or a picture of shoes next to the door to help your child remember to put on his shoes before leaving the house. Take or draw a picture of your child at each step of brushing their teeth – putting the toothpaste on the brush, brushing their teeth, rinsing and spitting, and cleaning up. Then, put those pictures together and hang them up by the sink in the bathroom. Not only is this an effective approach, but it can be a fun DIY activity to do with your kids!
QUICK TIP: Kids like to do things on their own, so let them check off what they have completed on their schedules or routine charts. When all the boxes are checked off, you can talk about everything they have done and how proud you are of them. It’s a perfect moment to bond and connect – whether it’s throughout the day or at bedtime.