Maybe your parents didn’t raise you that way. Maybe yoυ -as an adult and a professional- are allergic to tight schedules, deadlines and strict programs to stick to. You may as well believe that a routine doesn’t leave enough space for creativity to breathe.
That’s not the case with scientific researches and childcare psychology guidelines that actually suggest it is the other way around! When it comes to bringing up children into happy and functional adults to thrive, sticking to a well planned routine goes without saying.
Parents should be in direct cooperation with children’s caregivers as far as sticking to a daily routine is concerned. Nannies or grandparents must follow family’s little rituals and order of events because if they don’t, children will be puzzled as to what their program includes and will end up losing their trust in both their parents and caregivers, since they are not speaking the same language. If we should put two key words next to the word routine, «consistency» would be the one. And «unanimity» the other.
Let’s see why a well set up family routine matters!
Children don’t share with us the same notion of time. Their sense of time is more or less a sense of “what is coming next.” The order of events is crucial for them in order to know what is following. This sense of continuity is actually what a well planned routine is all about. Spoil that and children feel disoriented and disorganised. Their day looks like a trip without a compass. The knowing in advance of the succession of events is their compass. Their sense of security.
If you say to a child “do what you want with your day”, he will probably end up watching all day TV, or nagging about how boring it is not having anything to do! Irritability and anxiety build up and at the end of the day not having a routine will be equal to a flat, tedious and colorless day!
Knowing in advance the everyday tasks associated with their routine, children are more likely to fulfill them successfully since they are familiar to them. Having realized what their routine includes, their daily tasks and responsibilities, means that they know how to deal with them since they have been there before! A sense of accomplishment and a notion of “being good at what they do” make them feel more at ease with their self-confidence and adds up to their self-value.
Since the kids understand this is not a case of who will dominate but that of sticking to a routine, they tend to do what is expected from them with less nagging or disobedience. Children seem to internalize that it’s not their parents that are dictating what they should do but something everybody has agreed on. A program that parents should also stick to. Common to every member of the family.
Sticking to a routine during childhood prepares the child for a responsible, rewarding, fertile and creative adulthood. Only if you have experienced the limits of a program and your commitment to follow it, are you in the position when you grow up to creatively and effectively undermine them!
And what about summer vacation, you will argue. And, how do you commit to a routine when things change out of the blue, resisting programs and schedules? Well, the answer is you don’t. And, at the same time you do. During vacation we come up with a new set of rules, of course more flexible and loose, that allow for alterations and surprises to kick in!
At the same time, if something unplanned takes place, a misfortune or an event that has to suddenly change the planning of the family, parents should take into consideration that they should reset a new schedule to guarantee their children’s emotional stability and well-being. During unforeseen changes the setting of a new routine is even more crucial for children’s ability to cope with the new conditions, otherwise hostile to them.