I know I didn’t use a real word in that title, however, you know what I mean when you meet a “routined” kid! They have healthy habits that have been developed to act as a foundation for the rest of their lives.
Kids start out with a clean slate. They need to be taught how to brush their teeth, how to get dressed, how to read… even right from wrong. Most kids thrive in an environment with boundaries and not one full of chaos. Even though some like change, they still like to know what’s coming next and what to anticipate.
When parents train their kids through routine, the kids develop 7 good, healthy habits that tie in specifically to that routine.
Scientists say it takes at least 21 days to develop a habit. Habits can be good or bad, healthy or detrimental to our health, such as smoking, not getting enough sleep, etc. It’s just as important for kids to have good, healthy habits as it is for adults. In most cases, even moreso since it’s their foundation for a healthy life as an adult later. Let’s take a look at the healthy habits your child develops simply by keeping a routine consistent and in the forefront…
Habit #1: Good teethbrushing skills
If you start this routine early, when their teeth are breaking through the gums, they will get used to a brush in their mouths, how to move it around to clean all sides of their teeth, and how often to use it. One of my favorite things about a routine is the timing. When you do certain things either in a certain order and/or during a certain time of day, it really sticks with kids. For mine, they just know they brush their teeth before bed… before any stories are read, hugs given out, even pajamas put on. Teeth get brushed first.
Habit #2: Meal time
If at all possible, try to keep your mealtimes around the same time each day. This becomes very helpful when your little one is bored. Instead of resorting to eating food (which so many kids do), remind them it’s not lunchtime yet, and suggest a task for them to do until then. Most of the time, when you get them off that train of thought, they will move on to something else.
Routines for mealtime are also great when it comes to set up and clean up. Setting the table was always part of the dinner routine when I was growing up. I remember each of us girls having our own tasks to do to help the entire family before the meal. One of us would set the table, one would help carry plates, etc. With a routine established, it just becomes the thing you do before you eat. It becomes second nature to your kids.
The same goes for cleaning up after a meal. If you expect them to clear their dishes and cups, share with them your expectations, follow through daily, each meal, and before you know it, they will be doing it without you needing to ask or remind them.
Habit #3: Bath time
Most kids like the tubby, unless, perhaps, you have a sensory defensive fellow, like I do. Boy, when we tell one of our twins it’s tubby time, he can’t get in there fast enough. He knows what’s coming. He knows what to expect. He knows to lift his feet off the floor, one at a time, so we can get his pants off! He knows the routine. I believe it’s because of this routine that we’ve been able to get our super sensitive little guy actually happy in the tub. We have a routine, so he knows what to expect. Therefore, it makes it less scary for him. He can get in, get clean, get out, and not feel harmed, get upset, or scream the entire time. It’s taken us some time for him to “get it,” however, it been worth sticking with the routine to give him that opportunity.
Habit #4: Play time
Our kids, from day one, have been put into a routine, whether they knew it or not. We had each baby (and both babies together with the twins) on an eat, play, sleep schedule. It worked and worked well with every single one of them. They would always wake up hungry (we have that routine down so well that our almost 3 year olds expect food every time they get out of their beds!). And they always know they get time to play again before sleep. Even as infants they seemed to grasp this fairly quickly. I believe it also has made nap and bedtime easier for them. They know when to expect it. Which leads us to…
Habit #5: Sleep time
This one habit has so many facets to the routine to make sleeping easier and better for your child ~ like sleeping through the night at 2 weeks old (that’s a whole other blog post!). This routine requires diligence, persistence, and patience on mom and dad’s part, but it has some of the biggest reward. When you have successfully set up a good sleep routine, your kids don’t fight you. Then don’t throw tantrums. They almost collapse in your arms and even calm themselves down. They understand that they are going into their beds (with very little stimulus), getting tucked in with blankets, sharing prayers, kisses, hugs, and lights go out. They know their next proper response is sleep. For the most part, they stay quiet and do their best to fall asleep. Of course, there are always exceptions when someone isn’t feeling well, is overly tired, or can’t sleep due to a surrounding environmental issue (lights on, tv too loud, etc.).
Kids need their sleep and mine enjoy their sleep. My twins have even been known to play in their beds after they wake up because they love being in there so much. I have thought they were sound asleep before, then heard hysterical laughter from one or both of them all of a sudden. I love the twin dynamic!
Habit #6: Diaper time
As weird as this sounds, we have even developed a specific diaper time. And you know it’s a set routine when your 2 year old comes to YOU to get his diaper changed… because of the time of day… not because of the stuff in the diaper! We have our nap and bedtime routines down so well that one of the boys actually comes to find me in their room to be changed when he knows I’m getting their beds ready. He’s gotten used to what we do. He finds comfort in that. So much so that he could care less about having his diaper changed… he just wants to stick with the plan! Of course, they have their moments when they run from me and make a game out of it. However, most of the time, it’s easy-peasy. (hmmm, maybe God blessed me with this since there are so many other issues we are working through with them!)
Habit #7: Going out
My kids love to go out. They love leaving the house… exploring outside, going to stores (it doesn’t matter what store)… just going out. All I have to do is tell them we are going, and they are instantly looking for socks and shoes and heading to the front door as quickly as possible. They know when they have to wait for me. They don’t go anywhere until I grab my purse. They just know. It’s routine.
Kids thrive with boundaries. They excel with schedules. They enjoy routines because they know what’s coming next.
I encourage you to start a routine with your children now. It’s never too late. They can learn at 2 weeks, 2 years, even 10 years! When routines are established, the whole house wins because you have set your expectations and your kids know what’s required of them. Before long, those things you are requesting and reinforcing will be second nature habits, and they will be done with ease and smiles!
How has a routine benefited your family and kids? Share!
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Jessica Stone is a wife, mom to 4, and owner of her own businesses in the fitness and essential oils industries. She has 3 special needs children, one which has an undiagnosed neuro-muscular condition that limits her mobility, and her twins are currently receiving therapy for sensory defensiveness, physical mobility, fine motor skills, and speech. She enjoys sharing what she has learned through her trials, experience, research, and tools that have helped her children’s health with other parents who are looking for support, encouragement, and helpful information. Get her FREE eBooklet Five Steps to Losing Those Last 10 Pounds today for simple steps to help you trim up and fit into those fashionable clothes you’ve always wanted to wear! Connect with Jess live today on Facebook!