“Routine” is often defined as “consistent, repetitive behavior.” I was surprised when I Googled routine quotes and saw that many have tied routines to a loss of creativity or a halt in progress, with some even going so far at to call them “lethal.” These quotes sum up the negativity surrounding routines:
“The less routine, the more life.” - Amos Bronson Alcott
“One travels to run away from routine, that dreadful routine that kills all imagination and all our capacity for enthusiasm.” - Ella Maillart
Yet, for children, the predictable power of routines and schedules provides a structured safety net that forms a foundation of success upon which creativity can grow.
FACT: Once a routine or schedule is internalized, it requires far less attention to carry out.
I have always seen the value of routines and embraced them as a priority both at home and as a teacher at school. Research indicates that 45% of daily behaviors are routines. These routines become the building blocks of a daily schedule. The schedule then describes the environment and when the routines will occur. Both need to be rote as opposed to requiring sustained cognitive input. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task for many individuals with deficits in focus, task completion, and sequencing.
Think about your child’s day. Their energy seems unlimited, but many children are using an inordinate amount of it just to complete daily tasks. As a teacher, I saw children and their parents overwhelmed by the chaos involved in just getting to school and going to bed at night. It left little energy for learning and quality family time at home.
Fact: Successful completion of daily routines and/or schedules enhances self-esteem
Studies show that routines and schedules have a positive effect on children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. Parents who set limits and provide their children with consistent routines and schedules are, in reality, setting boundaries. They understand the “what” and “when” expectations of their environment. As a result, this gives them the chance to be successful. Success breeds confidence, which in turn results in healthy self-esteem.
- Teach your child the routines needed to follow a schedule.
- Delineate each task & write down the steps!
- Provide an immediate reward once routine/schedule is completed!
- Investigate/implement tools to organize and implement routines
- Be creative and make structure fun! Try music, visuals, and/or technology!
- It takes 66 repetitions to create a habit - BE CONSISTENT!
Providing a child with the tools to successfully organize and perform daily routines/schedules is a basic fundamental component of parenting. Not everything needs to be debated, repeated, or explained to death. Some things just need to be consistent…repetitive….predictable….proving that you care.
Dr. Mindy McNeal is a special educator and fellow entrepreneur working to help families improve their daily routines. Learn more about the work she's doing at http://www.heyyouadhd.com.