Routines can be useful for establishing boundaries and guidelines for toddlers. In addition, they can help a child feel comfortable and secure knowing there is certainty and predictability they can count on. Consistent routines can help a child with their ‘body clocks’ and with many day-to-day basics such as:
- naps and sleeping well at night
- eating healthy, full meals
- having regular bowel movements
- enjoying healthy play and outdoor time, and
- calm, relaxed behavior at ‘down times’ during the day
Schedules and routines do not need to dominate the day. There is room for flexibility as well as adding fun routines you can enjoy together. Daily routines may include wake/bedtime, bath time, mealtimes and naptimes. There may also be fun and bonding routines built into the day (or week) such as playtime, family time, reading together and outdoor play.
It might be helpful to remember when you begin to establish a routine, work toward consistency and make adjustments as needed. A child’s development changes and when the schedule/routine is too strict or regimented, the benefits will be reduced. The child may feel more controlled rather than secured by it. Being flexible with establishing routines can decrease power struggles and create a calmer household, as well as increase independence and confidence in a child.
When you include meaningful and important elements into your family life, you are letting your child know what is important.
By Leslie Stevens, LCMFT