Routine. It’s a dull sounding word isn’t it? I beg to differ.
In fact I would argue routine frees us up to have a more remarkable lives. Take Mark Zuckerberg. Same grey t-shirt and blue jeans, day-in, day-out, and looks where it’s got him! But whilst his success with Facebook has a [bit] more to do then his daily choice of attire, I’m sure he’s a man or routine.
But routine is important, nay essential, in every aspect of our lives. Routine aids us during our waking hours as much as it does in sleep. It gives us structure – a way of organising our lives in way that works for us. With routine, we already know what needs to happen next, so we don’t need to continually organise ahead. Routines help motivate and give one a sense of purpose. And over time, routines become habits. Good habits.
In fact, studies have shown time and time again that routine is the backbone of many successful people. And in children, those who lack routine may be more prone to anxiety or having difficulty maintaining attention in class.
So why do kids resist routine?
You won’t be surprised to learn that routine, or rather lack of it, is a common complaint amongst parents. And this is especially the case as children grow older and seek to assert their new-found independence. In fact, with advancing age, what was routine can become anything but, and simple tasks can feel like all-out-war, fraying the tempers of parent and child alike.
So whilst sitting down for dinner might have been routine one week, the next you’re demanding they sit down, chasing them around the coffee table and generally loosing you cool. The same goes with homework for older kids.
It’s also worth remembering that children, especially young children, have a different mind set to us adults. They live in the moment – the pleasure of simply ‘being’. When was the last time you heard an adult say those all too familiar words “I don’t want to”? Whist the quality of perseverance is important to learn, a child, in their innocence, is simply telling you what you’re proposing isn’t really for them. Don’t take it too personally.
Why should a child remain seated at the dinner table? Because it’s good manners of course and is expected of people in a civilised society. But why? Because a child should, shouldn’t they? But why? Good question…
What can parents do?
Before parents can resolve routine issues in their household it helps to ensure everyone is on the same wavelength. If your partner, child’s carer, an influential friend or family member doesn’t mind your child doing something, but you do, you are giving your child contradictory feedback. Your child will sense the lack of leadership and, at the very least, feel confused, or more likely, play up. So talk to those close to you about the behaviours you want you kids to aspire to from the get-go.
Secondly, it’s up to you, the parent, to ensure routines are straightforward and easy to follow. A functioning household is a top-down hierarchy with you, the parent, at the very top. Despite what you may sometimes feel, you are still a great influence on your child. They will look to you for inspiration and direction. They will pick up on your bad habits. So lead by example
Routines need to be routine. So when you set a bedtime, stick with it. Routines need to work for everyone in your family, so when you find a combination of tasks that work well in sequence, repeat it, day in, day out. Chore and Reward charts can help here, especially for younger kids, as they set out what is expected of your children on a daily basis.
And remember, just because you’re trying to encourage good routines in your household doesn’t mean everything will work like clockwork. Far from it. So expect your kids to have their off days just like you do. Just don’t let it derail you. Because the more routine daily tasks become, the quicker they become good habits, for both you and your kids.