As your toddler begins to grow into their own person, they soon begin to become more self reliant and will want to exercise their own free will. Often this can conflict with a parent’s needs and can cause problems in the home, so encouraging a child to maintain frequent habits through routine can help to establish discipline and prepare them later in life.
Why does my child need a routine?
The transition from young baby to toddler is a troubling time with lots of big changes, from weaning off breast feeding to sleeping alone and learning to walk and talk. With so many developments, many beyond your child’s control, change can be frightening, and so introducing a routine with the same everyday tasks occurring at the same time will help your child to adjust.
Encouraging your child into a routine can also help them become more self reliant, from brushing their own teeth to doing their own homework without needing to be nudged. An organised household is likely to produce an organised child, who can take better control of their day to day activities under the influence of routine tasks.
What activities should I schedule?
From birth through to school age, a night time routine is an essential part of a child’s development. Encourage your child to go to bed every night at the same time, whether it’s a baby who goes down after a feed and a bath, or a child who goes to sleep following a tooth brushing and story time routine. For older children, encourage them to go to bed by providing a comfortable sleeping environment, from comfort blankets to child friendly mattresses.
Meal times are also very important for both younger babies and toddlers. Arrange your baby’s meal times around their sleep cycle, for example, feed them during the night if they cannot go back to sleep by comforting alone, and feed them whenever they wake from a nap. Older children will benefit from a regular evening meal time, especially after becoming used to regular breakfast and school lunchtimes. If your child’s dinner time is too early for you, prepare a smaller, lighter meal for your child and cook for yourself once they have gone to bed.
For older children, make sure in particular that their evening is well scheduled – providing a routine ‘play time’ will give your child a good incentive to do their homework after school, while bath times before bed will calm and relax your child and encourage them to sleep.
Whether you've a baby or a school age child, a regular routine will encourage him or her to develop good personal habits and further their independence later in life.