Saving Your Sanity With Structure and Routine


In a typical school day, kids follow a carefully planned routine from the time they arrive to the time they are dismissed. They listen to announcements and eat lunch at the same time each day, learn subjects in a specific order, switch classes when the bell rings, put their materials away after using them, and obey classroom rules that have clear consequences. This structure not only makes for a positive learning environment, but allows kids to change from one activity to the next while practicing and learning expected behavior. Whether or not your child struggles with learning differences, or behavioral challenges, creating structure at home will help ease daily life and reduce meltdowns. Below are some helpful tips for creating structure at home.

Establish a routine.

Routines and daily schedules help young children know what to expect. It’s important to stick to a routine to help kids establish a sense of self-discipline. For many kids, having visual cues on a chart can be a helpful reminder of what happens next. Remember to allow for some flexibility in your child’s routine to help them learn about adapting to change.

House rules.

It’s important that everyone in the family understands there are certain behaviors that are not acceptable. Insist that all family members adhere to them in order to foster respect for one another and create order. Enforcing simple rules at home like no hitting, no spitting, no throwing toys, no jumping on furniture, no swearing also helps children follow them in different places outside the home. Consider posting the rules in a place where everybody in the family can see them. Talk to your kids about the rules and share them with all of their caregivers. Keep in mind, rules are most effective when they consistent, predictable, and there is follow-through

Consistently Consistent.

Meaning, that parents respond to their child’s behavior in the same manner every time. It’s natural for kids to explore their boundaries, consistent follow through through on your end is essential whether you are trying to curb negative behavior or reinforce positive behavior. Sometimes the biggest challenge is getting both parents to follow the same approach.

Assign chores.

Chores are an excellent way to begin “scaffolding” your child’s abilities and confidence. Children at any age should be given the opportunity to complete tasks that contribute to the success of the household. Little jobs like putting their clothes in a drawer or feeding an animal gives kids a sense of pride while instilling responsibility and problem-solving skills. Keep a chore list that allows your child to check off which chores have been completed and which ones still need to get done.

Make age-appropriate adjustments.

Schedules and rules are great, but be sure you’re not expecting too much from younger kids or not enough from the older ones. As kids get older, schedules should include homework time, video game time, and perhaps a later bedtime. Consequences will also need to change and can slowly begin to involve things like missing out on activities with friends if they are not meeting their end of the bargain..

Keep things positive!

Reward and praise your child for following routines and rules. This makes it more likely that your child will follow the routines and rules in the future. Positive interaction, rewards and affection go a long way in shaping a child’s behavior and providing an environment that is enjoyable to live in. Ultimately, kids need and want structure from their parents even if comes with some resistance. Structure helps create a sense of security while instilling the discipline that is needed for kids to handle their own lives and develop into secure, happy adults. If parents consistently practice these guidelines, everyone in the family will reap the rewards.
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