Daily Routines and Schedules

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

Routines and schedules help give children a sense of security. Maintaining regular daily routines makes it easier for children to deal with stress or life changes.   Routines are especially important during particular times of the day from getting ready in the morning to bedtime. Stable routines help children to anticipate what will happen next, it’s actions and a guide to a specific goal. Routines should be regular, but flexible when needed.   Unexpected events may cause for a change of routine. The goal is to be constant, but make changes adaptable when necessary.  This helps prepare children to be flexible when unexpected events take place, and knowing that the routine will return the following day.

In the Article, Why Kids Need Routines, stated Seven Benefits of Using Routines with Your Kids:

  1. Routines eliminate power struggles.

Routines eliminate power struggles because you are not bossing the child around. This activity (brushing teeth, napping, turning off the TV to come to dinner) is just what we do at this time of day. The parent stops being the bad guy, and nagging is greatly reduced.

  1. Routines help kids cooperate.

Routines help kids cooperate by reducing stress and anxiety for everyone. We all know what comes next; we get fair warning for transitions, and no one feels pushed around, or like parents are being arbitrary.

  1. Routines help kids learn to take charge of their own activities.

Over time, kids learn to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks, etc., without constant reminders. Kids love being in charge of themselves. This feeling increases their sense of mastery and competence. Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves have less need to rebel and be oppositional.

  1. Kids learn the concept of “looking forward” to things they enjoy.

This is an important part of making a happy accommodation with the demands of a schedule. He may want to go to the playground now, but he can learn that we always go to the playground in the afternoon, and he can look forward to it then.

  1. Regular routines help kids get on a schedule.

Regular routines help kids get on a schedule, so that they fall asleep more easily at night.

  1. Routines help parents build in those precious connection moments.

We all know that we need to connect with our children every day, but when our focus is on moving kids through the schedule to get them to bed, we miss out on opportunities to connect. If we build little connection rituals into our routine, they become habit.

  1.      7. Schedules help parents maintain consistency in expectations.

If everything is a fight, parents end up settling: more TV, skip-brushing teeth for tonight, etc. With a routine, parents are more likely to stick to healthy expectations for everyone in the family, because that’s just the way we do things in our household. The result: a family with healthy habits, where everything runs more smoothly!

(Aha! Parenting.com, Copyright ©2017 Dr. Laura Markham)

I have found as a parent, the most important routines of the day are morning rituals, meal times and bedtime. These regular schedules provide the day with structure. The key is also being prepared.

Morning Rituals: For our morning rituals, we do some prep work the evening before by preparing lunches, setting out outfits and packing backpacks. This has eliminated stress in the morning and time. These tasks also help teach organizational skills and time management. A visual schedule can be used to show the routines of the day from: wake up, use the bathroom, eat breakfast, brush teeth, brush hair and get dressed. Pictures of each activity can be used to visually see the order and what they should do next.

Meal Time Routines: When children have a mealtime routine, they know what to expect when it is time for family meals. Dinnertime gives families the opportunity to talk about their day and share their feelings. There can be many routines from washing hands, setting the table, helping with the meal or clearing the dishes.

Bedtime Rituals: Bedtime rituals make it easier to get children to bed at night. For my daughter, we had a visual schedule of each activity she needed to do before bed. The schedule was pictures of her doing each ritual placed in order. Beginning with bath, pajamas, brush teeth, two stories, get tucked into bed, lights out and ending with sleep. We did the same routine each night and she could look at her schedule to know what came next and what was expected.

I have also found that giving children a 5-minute warning before a routine or ritual helps children to finish what they are doing and to become more prepared for their next tasks. Routines and rituals make it easier for families to become organized and get things done. Family life may be chaotic without these types of structure. There are no rules for what routines and rituals you need. It’s about finding what works best for your family.

Here are some great resources to get you started on establishing family routines and rituals:

Creating Structures and Rules

https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/structure/

The Importance of Routines for Children

http://www.schoolsparks.com/blog/the-importance-of-routines-for-children

It’s the Little Things: Daily Routines

http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/providers/little.html

Here is a wonderful website that has many visual schedules and other tools you can use at home and in school: http://setbc.org/pictureset/

Parenting-How to Remain Calm

dadBy Ms. Kathleen, ECFE Parent Educator

Remain calm, easy to say – not so easy to do. Calmness is defined as the ability to be tranquil and composed. Experts say that to become a parent with a cool head in the heat of the moment begins with focusing on you, not on the child. It begins with you because children need parents who can keep their cool, when they themselves cannot. When things are scary, confusing or overwhelming, children need parents who are in control and remain calm. Children need to know that they can count on you. As a parent, your first response in situations of stress, emotions or chaos may not be one of composure.  Your first reaction might be to yell, react and think later. If so – read on.

Parenting begins with you-you set the example. So if calmness is not your strength-it can be! By intentionally focusing on your emotions and behaviors, you can find calm. Hal Rundel, founder of the Screamfree theory, has useful strategies to get you on the way to being the parent you want to be, bringing peace and calmness to your life.

KEEP YOUR COOL:

Count to ten  & deep belly breathe– this helps  you relax a little, giving you a chance to separate yourself from what triggered anger and to think about how you want to respond.

FREEZE -FRAME:

Get a mental picture of yourself in the moment. Are you being the parent you want to be? If not- change your behavior to fit the picture of how you want to parent.

USE A MANTRA:

Repeat, “I can deal with this with grace and dignity.” Keep repeating it until you feel in control and are responding in a way that fits your parenting picture. Recently a parent shared her mantra “This is how my children will remember me”. She feels that this thought has helped her to have fewer blow-ups and enabled her to approach life with a renewed sense of calmness.

Remember – calm begets calm.

Check out: Celebrate Calm- an educational organization that provides science based training for parents & The Screamfree Institute- a nonprofit dedicated to helping families connect and find peace.

Overindulgence..Are Your Children Over-Scheduled?

By Ms. Cindy, Early Childhood Teacher

overscheduled preschoolerIf you have come to an ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) class with your child, you may remember the song where the children play the instruments slowly and then they play the instruments as quickly.  It is a rare child that doesn’t break into a huge smile when they play the instrument fast.  As I look around at the happy faces during the song, I think about how if we played the instruments fast for the entire song it wouldn’t be such a positive experience for the kids.  My E.C.F.E.  students also enjoy an instrumental song where they play along when they hear the music and then they stop and just hold the instrument until the music starts again.  It takes self-discipline to not play, but it makes it all the more fun when they play again.  As an educator and a musician, I am amazed at how well they perform these musical concepts at such a young age.  Along with the musical concepts, there is a wonderful parenting lesson that can be learned from these songs.

It is the contrast between the fast and slow that makes “playing fast” more appealing.  Children need parents to provide their life with structure, healthy foods, chores, expectations of positive behavior, limitations of media and rules.  When children are raised with the normal “slow” setting of a calm and secure life, the contrast of a celebration brings excitement and a smile to a child’s face.  If they live in a constant state of “playing fast” it is not a healthy lifestyle.  If they don’t learn the needed skill of self-control, then we have not prepared them for the future.  “Overindulgence is doing or having so much of something that it does active harm, or at least prevents a person from developing and deprives that person of achieving his or her full potential.” (Connie Dawson & David J. Bredehoft)

We live in a society where indulgence is a serious issue, and it may be hard to see blind spots with our own parenting.   Mary L. Hughes, a Family Life Field Specialist, raises 4 questions for parents to consider.

  1. Does the situation keep the child from learning tasks that supports his or her development?
  2. Does the situation give disproportionate amounts of family resources to one or more children? (Money, space, time, attention)
  3.  Who benefits the most from the situation the child or the parent?
  4.   Is the child’s behavior potentially harmful to others or society in some way?

Mary L. Hughes sites the “troubles of indulgence are inability to delay gratification and knowing when “enough is enough, selfish thinking, incompetence in everyday skills, self – care skills, and interpersonal skills, difficulty in establishing a sense of personal identity, and inability to take personal responsibilities.”  This certainly is a list that any parent should take seriously!

Parenting is daunting and challenging task. We live in a culture where parents spend an evening taking their child to soccer practice so the child can have fun and then need to provide elaborate snacks to “reward” them for their effort.  It wasn’t that long ago that it was a financial advantage to have more children to help work on the farm.  Now people often limit the amount of children they have because the cost of raising children.  I wish our society would place a higher value on raising children that have a positive work ethic, care about others, have manners and are responsible.

Parents can feel a sense of importance if their child is successful in sports, music, beauty pageants, etc.  I want to say that I am a firm believer in supporting your child’s talents and exposing them to many experiences.  There are certainly positive things to be learned from these activities.  I learned discipline, leadership and gained confidence from the experience of performing.   It is the extreme time commitment often required that reminds me of a song with the instruments playing loud the whole way through.  Children need to have some simple quiet activities too.  If I could rewind my parenting choices, I would want to spend more family time together enjoying bike rides and bonfires and less time divided by the demands of activities that require an unhealthy time commitment. Children need the opportunity to experience being a child instead of the pressure of being a “star” at some activity.  For some reason though it seems like we have lost a sense of balance in raising children.  Children aren’t there to make parents look successful.  Parents are there to guide children into being healthy productive adults.  We have friends who own a company and they have found their best employees have been raised on farms.  Installing a hard work ethic in our children is critical!

To use a musical analogy I feel like I am using a jingle to discuss this topic and it should be a 20-page symphony.  I hope the questions raised challenge you to think about your goals for your children.  Our future as a society is greatly influenced by the children we are raising!