From the community

Routines for families and why they matter

Posted May 01, 2013, at 10:37 a.m.
The logo of the Teen and Young Parent Program
The logo of the Teen and Young Parent Program

ROCKLAND, ME — A routine is a standard or normal way of doing something. Routines are helpful for everyone and while they may seem tedious to some adults, they are essential for children. Research continues to support that children thrive when they have predictable routines.

“Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident,” says Dr. Peter Gorski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Children’s internal alarms go off when they don’t know what to expect, which may leave them feeling insecure and often times will result in a tantrum.

Since young children do not understand the concept of time in minutes or hours, they rely on events. Their brains are still developing, but they can understand concepts such as, “before snack time, we read a book” or “after a nap, we play outside.” When events happen in the same order, children feel secure and have a better understanding of their world. Research indicates that children who have regular routines are more likely to adapt in stressful situations than children who don’t.

It’s never too late to begin a routine. Not sure where to start? Difficult times may include getting dressed in the morning and bedtime, so start with one of those. Experts agree to change one thing at a time and stick with it. Once things are going smoothly, change another. If your child is older, they make ask why things are different. Simply let them know the old way wasn’t working, so you’re trying a new way. Need support to make changes? Talk with your Maine Families Parent Educator.

If you or someone you know is pregnant or has a newborn at home, and would like information about the Teen and Young Parent Program or Maine Families home visiting program, please call (207) 594-1980 or toll-free within Maine 1-877-972-5804. We enroll prenatally and up until the child turns 3 months old. Parent Educators provide enrolled families with up-to-date information on subjects such as routines, eating healthy, fine motor skills, social/emotional development and much more at monthly home visits.

Sources:

The Importance of Routines for Children, Liza Asher, http://www.mommd.com

Journal of Family Psychology 2002, Vol. 16, No. 4, 381-390, “50 Years of Research…”, http://www.apa.org

Noodle Soup, http:www.noodlesoup.com

Routines: Why They Matter and How to Get Started, Lisa Medoff, http://www.education.com

Structure: Why Kids Need Routines, http://www.ahaparenting.com

Why are family routines so important to children?, http://www.healthychildren.org

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