September means back to school for some and for others it can be a reminder to re-establish, or simply start, a routine. Any routine can be helpful for everyone in the house.
Having a routine, whether it is a schedule to get to work and school on time, or favorite traditions before bed, helps children feel safe, calm, and in control. Which is why when something unexpected happens, so does a meltdown. Playing outside when some one’s diaper is sagging – try and take that toddler inside will be like pulling an alligator away from it’s dinner. Here are some simple ways to establish and reinforce routines for everyone to have a smooth day.
Routines can be a schedule – wake up, potty/diaper, brush teeth, breakfast, get dressed, play, daycare. Boom. Sticking to the same schedule every day creates familiarity. Kids know what to expect. Ie, when play time is coming, and coming to an end.
Or a routine can be a reminding list – “We are playing cars now, soon we will get our diaper changed and put our shoes on to go to the grocery store. You can ride in the cart and help Mommy pick find our favorite foods.”
Either way, through each stage of the routine, remind your child of what is happening. Literally, repeat the list after each step. Be prepared for some resistance with babies and toddlers, after all, they’re babies and toddlers. But, constant reminders of the routine and what is to come will help to control outbursts.
And quite possibly the biggest part of reinforcing a routine – don’t make it a chore! Involve your child in the conversation. Making a child feel included will create a sense of importance and he will be more likely to engage in the routine then acting against it.
“Toys are all done, we have to go to the store, let’s go.”
“Let’s clean up so we can go to the store. What should we pick out for dinner? Noodles or Chicken? What about for dessert? Peaches?”
Lastly, a routine is never in stone. Skip a nap to play at the beach, stay up late during a summer BBQ, leave dishes in the sink to play Legos. Snuggle when the snuggle is real.
Now, go play!