Why Routines Are Important for Kids

A family home without routines can be chaotic and unpredictable -- two aspects of an environment that is less than optimal for helping children feel safe and secure. Creating and maintaining routines with your children and family has a positive impact on many aspects of life.

Routines create an environment of stability and structure. When children know what to expect, and at what general time, they feel more in control. In this way, routines also foster feelings of safeness and security. When kids are constantly on their toes, not quite sure what will happen from day to day, they tend to be more stressed. But when there are clear expectations and a predictable schedule, kids can lose some of that tension and relax.

With younger children, routines also are a great way to start introducing the concept of the future and events that will take place at a later time. Having some familiarity of the situation due to its repeatability will help your young children grasp the concepts more readily. When they know every Saturday night is Family Movie Night, they can begin to anticipate the future event--you can even help them count down the days to help them learn how the days and weeks work.

Routines are also a great tool for teaching your children life skills that can become habits. Routines such as always brushing their teeth before bed or washing their hands before they eat dinner teach them healthy habits they can continue throughout life. And, pretty soon, your kiddos may start doing these kinds of tasks without your prompting--meaning more independence for them, and less hassling for you!

Another benefit for routines is that the predictability can often help with their body clocks. When they eat a snack before naptime, or you read them a story before bed, they begin to understand when these events happen, they will be going to bed soon. Their body will become in tune with these cues, and getting them to sleep can become a little easier.

Of course there are times when upholding all your normal routines just isn’t possible--for example, during the holidays or on vacation. That is okay! You can still try to pick a few routines to stick to no matter what-- like teeth brushing and story time before bed. You can also talk about the coming day the night before, so your kids know what to expect, even if the day will look a little different from “normal”.

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