If one thing is constant in the life of a child, it’s change. Kids face new and, often, scary variations in their lives constantly – a new teacher (or a substitute), a new house, a new baby in the family, a new food to try. The list is endless. These changes can sometimes make a child feel frightened and insecure, which is why setting up a daily routine helps kids feel safe.
Structure and a daily routine build habits and life skills and give the child something they can control. For example, simple acts like putting away their toys before bedtime every night can bring a sense of order to chaos. A predictable routine will comfort a child if they know they’ll get some one-on-one time with their parent during their daily story time and a hug every morning is a special routine that conveys love and affection and starts the day a positive note.
Additionally, some children may have problems with executive functioning – the ability to analyze information, think about solutions and implement them. It can be difficult for them to develop time-management skills, choose appropriate actions, and anticipate consequences. Daily routines are helpful in providing a way for these children to follow step-by-step instructions, learn to self-regulate their behavior, and start and complete tasks.
Every family needs some type of daily routine to keep the household running smoothly. Setting one up and teaching kids to follow it not only encourages responsibility, it helps bond family relationships and instills behavior strategies like time management and organization.
Setting up a Daily Routine
The goal of setting up a daily routine is to shape the world around you and your child to build skills that will follow your child into adulthood. There is no right or wrong way to begin a daily routine because it will be based on your family’s unique needs.
There are keys to creating an effective routine, though:
· It should be predictable. Think about your day – you generally follow some type of schedule by waking at a certain time, bathing or showering, dressing, eating, going to work or school. Being predictable means a schedule follows a pattern – you might always grocery shop on Saturday or fill up your car’s gas tank on Tuesday after work.
· It should be consistent. For example, you and your kids might look forward to a quiet story time before bed every night.
· It should be fair and well-planned. This way, everyone knows and understands their role and sees that they are being treated fairly. Chores should be divided among kids according to their age and capability.
· If your children are older, their input should be asked for and included when possible. Adolescents and teens will be more responsive if they’ve been asked to contribute their ideas to a routine. Additionally, they will challenge you less if they’ve been the one to suggest they’ll do their homework every night or will do their own laundry every weekend.
Some routines will be based on a certain day (maybe your laundry is done on Sunday), others are done in the morning (brushing your teeth), the evening (doing homework), or on weekends (cleaning the house). Some routines should be done automatically, such as teaching your child to cover his mouth when sneezing or teaching them to wash their hands after using the bathroom.
Charts offer visual reminders of daily routines. Making it fun, with brightly colored poster board or shiny stickers, helps ensure that a young child will be more likely to follow it. For those children who struggle with executive functioning, eye-catching charts and graphics give them something to focus on. They make it easier for these kids to understand the bigger picture – for example, by showing when a task needs to be completed or by listing actions that need to be taken.
Apps Make Daily Activities Fun
Daily routine apps are powerful learning tools. Their colorful images engage and hold children’s attention, which is particularly important for young children who can’t read. A visual aid makes it easier for parents to set up daily schedules because it provides pictures of tasks that need to be done and offers reminders to help instill the routine in the child’s mind.
Some apps, like our Giant Leap app, are flexible and customizable, allowing parents to create charts and add personalized activities, times, and behaviors to their child’s list. Giant Leap gives children who have issues with executive functioning easy access to charts that help them stay organized and can support their unique needs. For added convenience, Giant Leap allows parents to update their child’s charts in real time within the app and lets them print charts out for daily or weekly use.
By encouraging consistency, apps make daily routines exciting for children. Completing tasks and activities on these learning tools builds self-confidence, self-reliance and responsibility in kids, which sets them up for future success.
Our Giant Leap App Builds Life Skills
For more information about how our Giant Leap app can be an effective part of teaching children life skills and independence, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.