The Importance of Routine for Children

As adults, our reaction to routine varies. Some of us rely on routine, while others feel it’s dull. However, young children are different. Here are some of the benefits your child can gain from a consistent routine in daily life.

  • Increased confidence and independence. According to Dr. Peter Gorski of Harvard Medical School, knowing what to expect from daily life can develop a child’s confidence. Being able to rely on past experiences in a safe environment allows your child to feel comfortable performing the same activities, such as putting on pajamas, on their own.
  • Greater self-control. If a child has no limits on when they can watch cartoons, for example, they may not learn that sometimes they have to turn the TV off in order to do something less fun. A routine helps your child understand the balance between enjoyable tasks such as play, and functional tasks such as brushing their teeth.
  • Stress reduction. When a child has a predictable daily routine, it reminds them that they are in a secure, loving environment. If your child knows what they can reasonably expect to happen each day, they don’t worry about “what if” scenarios, and it’s also easier for you to enforce rules. When your child knows what is expected of them, it will help to reduce their stress.
  • Exposure to healthy habits. When your child routinely performs the same activities such as washing hands before meals, cleaning teeth, and taking a walk after dinner, it may seem like just an organized way to get things done on time. However, this repetition also creates habits around these healthy activities that your child can carry with them naturally into later life.

Tips for creating routines for your child

There is no perfect routine for each family, because each family is different. You should design a routine based on your family’s unique situation and needs. However, think about a routine that is well-planned and regular, with reasonable roles that everyone in the family understands. Depending on your child’s age, you may consider creating routines for the following:

  • Getting ready for preschool, school, or daycare
  • Getting ready for bed
  • Eating a meal as a family at the same time each day
  • Spending time outdoors together
  • Visiting friends and family
  • Attending a place of worship
  • Holding a family game or movie night
  • Working on arts and crafts together
  • Doing family chores

While routines are important for your child, it is also important to remain flexible, leaving room for free, unscheduled time. This will help your child learn how to deal with unpredictability and change, and will also prevent a family routine from becoming a source of stress.