Discipline Tool You Can’t Live Without
Routines represent one of a parent’s best and most influential disciplinary tool. We discipline to teach our children responsibility, time management, and consideration of other people. In other words, we discipline to promote mature behavior. Routines do all this and more. Consider some of the disciplinary lessons of routines.
- Routines give children a sense of security. Children like consistency. They like to know “what’s next.” Routines provide consistency and knowledge of “what’s next,” resulting in a sense of safety and security. A strong sense of security translates to fewer behavior problems.
- Routines reduce power struggles between parent and child. Once a routine is in place, children follow through more easily. The struggle over bedtime, brushing teeth or clearing the table lessens because “it’s just what we do in our family.” And, while you engage in routines like clearing the table, you have time to connect as a family.
- Routines help children gain independence. Want your children to develop healthy habits like taking a shower, brushing their teeth, doing their homework, getting up on their own? A good way to get it all started is to set up a routine and follow it. In time, your children will follow the routine independently. Start early and build the routine as they age. You’ll be pleased with their independence as middle schoolers. As an added bonus, learning routines will help your children learn to manage their time.
- Routines help children plan ahead. Routines involve a series of activities, one activity leading to the next. Within that framework, children look forward, plan ahead, to the next activity within the routine. Even more, you can end a routine with an enjoyable reward like “thank you,” “well-done,” or a fun interaction. When that happens, you’ve added anticipation of reward into the mix…and taught the benefit of getting work done so you can have uninterrupted fun!
- Routines help you and your children connect at various times throughout the day. Morning routines, bedtime routines, and transitions routines provide times to connect throughout the day. When you add a time of connection into each of these routines, each activity will go more smoothly AND you will experience more intimate interactions with your children.
Hopefully you are ready to establish routines in your home after reviewing these benefits. So, here are five routines I believe very beneficial to every family. Develop each to meet your family’s styles and needs.
- The Family Meal Routine. Families that eat at least 3-5 meals together each week experience many benefits (see The Lost Art of Family Meals for more on benefits). The family meal ritual includes much more than eating. It includes preparation, clean up, and lots of family interaction.
- The Morning Routine. A morning routine will teach your children to get ready for the day independently. Most importantly, the morning routine will set the tone for the rest of the day. So, be sure to include at least a little positive interaction into this routine. (Read Prime Your Child for a Good School Day for more on setting up a morning routine.)
- Taking Leave Routine. Taking leave routines are quick and easy. They provide a way to say good-bye as each family member goes their separate way for the day. A simple hug and kiss is all it takes for this routine, but the benefits are immense (like growing intimacy, sense of security, sense of value).
- Reconnecting Routines. From infancy through adulthood, we look for ways to reconnect after a time of separation or in response to some fear. Reconnecting confirms our sense of security and boosts our confidence. A reconnecting routine involves physical contact (like a hug or kiss) and simple, quality conversation. This routine is simple, but will have a profound impact on your family.
- Bedtime Routine. Many parents find the bedtime routine one of the most rewarding of all routines. Children open up and talk about the day. They share meaningful insights about their fears and joys. Parent and child form a more intimate relationship during this routine. After a good bedtime routine, children can drift off to sleep with a profound sense of connection and an experience of enjoyable intimacy. (Read Top Four Times for Parent-Child Talks for more on bedtime routines.)