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Why Routines are Important for Young Children

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Young children thrive on routines. 

Routines are essential for young children because they give a sense of security and stability, and they help children learn and develop key skills like self-regulation.

Knowing what to expect next is key in reducing anxiety and stress. It’s the same reason you may watch The Office or The West Wing on repeat for comfort. You’ve seen them a lot, you know what will happen, and that’s comforting. Routines provide the same type of comfort for your young child.

“Routines are comforting for children because they can help them anticipate what is going to happen next,” Rachel Duda, Vivvi’s VP of Learning, said. “The predictability also allows children to be more independent. Once children know the routine, it gives them an opportunity to lead and allows parents to take a step back. While it may be more work for parents to create routine and consistency, once they have established those routines, parents will find they have to do less.”

Routines also show children how to behave in the world. They help them make sense of what’s going on around them and also alert them to social cues: when we’re at home we take our shoes off at the door, you can’t eat groceries before you buy them, inside voices are different than outside voices.

How Routines Benefit Your Child

Just like you, your child feels most secure and stable when they know what’s going on. Routines provide a sense of security and stability, helping children know what to expect and when to expect it, which can reduce anxiety and stress.

Don’t think of a routine as a long drawn out process. A daily routine in your child’s life might be to always take your shoes off at the front door. When your child gets home and takes their shoes off, something in their brain fires off and they know—they’re home.

Routines also help children learn self-regulation skills, such as how to wait their turn, follow directions, and manage their emotions.

  • Routines provide a sense of security and stability. When children know what to expect, they feel more secure and confident. This can help them to be more relaxed and to focus on learning and playing.
  • Routines help children learn self-regulation skills. Routines teach children how to wait their turn, follow directions, and manage their emotions. These are all important skills that will help them to succeed in school and in life.
  • Routines can help children sleep. When children have a regular bedtime routine, they are more likely to fall asleep easily and sleep through the night.
  • Routines make mealtimes easier. When children know what mealtimes will look like each day, and what their grownups’ expectations are of them, they’re less likely to push back or misbehave.
  • Routines can keep your house more organized. When children have a place for everything and everything in its place, they are less likely to lose things and they are more likely to be able to find what they need when they need it. That’s a win for everyone!

Creating Structure

There are three steps that can help you create structure and maintain routines: 1. be consistent; 2. be predictable; 3. have follow-through.

Creating a successful structure of routines helps your child learn to behave in various scenarios. Routines and rules help structure the home and make life more predictable—but only if you are consistent and follow through with decisions.

Each family has a basic routine they follow and rules they live by most days of the week. As parents, you set expectations and limits for your child’s behavior and your child learns how you respond. 

A routine in your home may be: your child needs to pick up one set of toys before moving on to the next. This is beneficial to the child because they learn order and responsibility. It is beneficial to the parent because they’re teaching their child to be participants in the home. An example of follow through and natural consequence in this scenario might occur if your child is unwilling to pick up their first set of toys. As a caregiver, you can give the next set and clean yourself—or teach your child structure by staying firm to the routine of no new toys until the last set was picked up. You can support your child by offering help and encouragement during this time, but it’s key to also implore their involvement.

Structure is good for parents and children. Children feel secure because they know what to expect, and parents feel confident because they know how to respond and respond the same way each time.

Vivvi Routine Making Tips:

  • Start early. The earlier you start establishing routines, the easier it will be for your child to adjust to them.
  • Be consistent. Once you have established a routine, stick to it as much as possible. This will help your child to learn that they can rely on the routine and that it will not change without warning.
  • Be flexible. There will be times when you need to be flexible with your routine. Maybe you or your child is sick, and all screen time rules fly out the window. We do what we can. But, trying to stick to routines as much as possible, even when things are hectic, ensures a smooth transition when things calm back down.
  • Make it fun. You can make routines more fun for your child by incorporating the things they enjoy. If brushing teeth is the hardest thing your two-year-old has ever done but they love Rubble more than anything on earth: pull up a Paw Patrol video and let them hold the phone while you brush brush brush.
  • Be patient. It may take some time for your child to adjust to a new routine. Be patient and consistent, and eventually your child will learn to follow and even be empowered by your routine.

Vivvi provides child care and early learning for children ages 0-5, with unrivaled flexibility that works for today’s families. Our inquiry-based curriculum is facilitated by warm, experienced teachers in bright, open spaces that let children make big connections to the growing world around them. Find your nearest Vivvi here.

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