Tuesday August 9th, 2022 7:40AM

Children Need Schedules and Routines

Children need predictable and consistent schedules and routines. Schedules help young children feel secure and comfortable. Predictable and consistent routines build trust and influence a child's emotional, learning and social development. They help children understand the expectations of parents and care providers. Inconsistency creates emotional anxiety and stress. Schedules and routines help reduce behavior problems, such as temper tantrums and acts of aggression. <br /> <br /> Routine is planning the day by time or activity. It is how families organize themselves to get things done, spend time together and have fun. Every family will have its own unique routine. Routines and schedules help family members know who should do what, when, in what order and how often. <br /> <br /> Children learn daily patterns when they have routines. Children learn what will or will not happen next. If a child's schedule is not defined, they may exhibit inappropriate behavior. Young children can become anxious or frustrated and may react by crying, being irritable or show improper behavior.<br /> <br /> Often young children are in childcare programs that do maintain consistent schedules. It is best if parents follow through with an established routine at home as well. It is especially important to keep mealtime, naptime and bedtime on a set schedule. This strategy will help children from becoming too hungry or over-tired. <br /> <br /> Parents should also allow for flexibility within the day. You do not want to become so rigid that special activities cannot be planned. Just remember to keep the meals and naps consistent with the child's usual schedule. Then, anytime spent together will be more enjoyable by both children and parents.<br /> Consider the following factors when planning schedules and routines at home. Vary the active and quiet activities and the pace of the activities. Also, consider the age of the child, attention span and what time of day children are alert or when they become tired.<br /> <br /> In any schedule, there will always be transition time. Transitions are those "in- between" times in the daily activities of a young child; going from one activity to another. They may not understand what is going to happen next. This is often the times when young children become anxious or frustrated since they may have to wait. Discipline problems often arise this time.<br /> <br /> Parents can ease those transitions times by turning them into learning experiences. Here are some tips to make these times go more smoothly:<br /> <br /> ~Tidy- up time - Give a 5-minute verbal clue before beginning each transition. "In 5 minutes it will be time to put away your toys." Then each minute after, tell the child again that it will be tidy-up time. Another technique might be to sing a familiar song when picking up and putting away toys. Explain to the child that when the song is finished, the job should be finished. <br /> <br /> ~Waiting in line - Recite nursery rhymes, finger plays or play word or guessing games. <br /> <br /> ~Naptime/Bedtime - Always give a verbal clue before preparing for naptime or bedtime. Follow the same order of events each time. For example before bedtime, help children understand they need to put on their pajamas, brush their teeth and then read a story. Calming strategies can be included in the routine, such as turning off lights, playing soft music, allowing children to look at books, rubbing their backs or drawing pictures on their backs with your finger. <br /> <br /> ~Quieting children to gain their attention - Determine a "attention getting" technique to share with your child. Help them to understand that when the phrase or action is used they must respond quietly and attentively. Let them help you choose. Different techniques could be used in different situations. Some examples could be any of the following: Say, 1-2-3 -eyes on me. Play "Simon Says", Count backwards from 10. Use a puppet to give directions. Turn off lights. Ring a bell<br /> <br /> Parents need to remember to provide positive feedback after transitions as well. For example, "I liked how you picked up your blocks and put them in the container."<br /> <br /> Prevent challenging behaviors before they occur. Consistent schedules and routines at home create a framework of security for children. When children understand and know what comes next, they have structure in their lives. They are more apt to feel secure and more likely to engage in appropriate behavior. <br /> <br /> <I>Debbie Wilburn is County Agent/Family and Consumer Science Agent with Hall County Cooperative Extension (770)535-8290.</I>
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