Back to School | Questions & Answers | 02

Q: Lots of people excel by having some kind of a routine, but everyone is also different. How do kids figure out a routine that works for them?

A: Predictable routines allow children to feel safe and excel in their lives by building and practicing discipline and constructive habits. Structure strengthens their sense of mastery, independence and ability to tackle changes so they can manage themselves more efficiently even in challenging or uncertain situations. It can be overwhelming for a child to come up with routines and schedules that work for them. Therefore, parents may lead them through this process by providing guidance, discussing responsibilities, priorities expectations and rewards. It is important to involve children in the decision-making process so they can build their confidence and commitment to the created together structure. It will also allow parents to better understand which tasks during the day are easier or more challenging for the child and come up with possible solutions. We should remember that some activities may be particularly stressful for a child. For instance, children who struggle with school and learning may refuse to complete their homework. Providing additional help, chunking time and breaking down tasks may be necessary. Similarly, if the child worries before bedtime, it may be a good idea to spend some time with them talking about positive things that happened during the day or listening to a guided meditation. Also, if the morning routine, homework or bedtime routine is stressful for a child, parents may suggest some rewarding activities if the child tries to accomplish the task. Some rewards may include going for a walk, watching tv, spending time on electronics for 30 min. or playing board games with family. I think that regardless of the age of the child, it is helpful to present routines in a visual way so it is easier to track them.