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Routines can help children to feel secure and organize themselves. Daily routines like brushing teeth or reading bedtime stories can go a long way in establishing healthy habits and good behaviour in toddlers.
Toddlers feel quite secure and comfortable around a predictable routine life. This is primarily because it gives them the confidence to expect a series of events at the same time, the same way and in the same order everyday. Another reason is that at such a young age, their brains haven’t matured enough to grasp the concept of time. Structured routines are important to help toddlers take control of their lives and also turn them into disciplined beings.
Routines for toddlers need not be strictly restricted to day to day activities such as getting up from the bed at a specific time, or saying a prayer before meals. As parents, you can take them for weekly fun outings or treat them to their favourite pizza once in a while, which is also considered a routine in itself.
Advantages of Having Routines
A well structured routine can benefit toddlers in a number of ways.
1. Develops healthy habits
Teaching toddlers to inculcate activities like washing hands before meals, going to bed early or tidying up after playing with toys as a routine will be instrumental in developing good personal hygiene and healthy habits.
2. Reinforces positive behaviour and discipline
Routines make it easier for children to become confident, take charge of situations and become responsible for their actions. When a routine is followed religiously, children understand what is expected out of them, and become disciplined on their own accord without needing any reminders.
3. Makes children feel safe and emotionally stable
Toddlers often get nervous around the situations unknown to them. Seeing a new member in the family, not being able to listen to the daily bedtime story or experiencing developmental milestones can evoke fear in children. With a familiar routine, parents can tackle potential tantrums, transitions or toddler anxiety in a better way, making them feel secure and safe.
4. Reduces Parent–Child Conflict
How often do you have to nag your toddlers for doing a task on its specified time? By establishing predictable routines, the power struggles between parents and children reduce to a considerable extent. In fact, routines can help parents to eliminate instances of frequent behaviour correction, without facing much resistance from children.
5. Builds social skills
As toddlers grow, their social skills pick up pace. They like to talk more to their parents or play often with friends and siblings. Daily routines such as eating dinner together or greeting everyone in the morning makes a predictable pattern for social interactions. The regular and consistent schedule can make parents stress free too, and give them more ‘me’ time.
Types of Routines
Maintaining steady routines would be challenging for both parents and toddlers, but they can make a big difference, and hence should be started as early as possible. The following daily routines may be considered for toddlers:
- Waking up early in the morning
- Going to the toilet
- Brushing teeth twice a day
- Taking a bath and getting dressed
- Eating meals on time
- Play time with parents/friends/siblings
- Reading a bedtime story
- Going to bed early
- Watching an animation movie once a week
- Eating their favourite ice cream on special occasions
Routines are important for toddlers, but make sure that they don’t become too rigid or boring. You can break routines into smaller steps, and let there be room for a little amount of flexibility or creativity. Let the routines be a learning opportunity for children!