Written by Dr. John Carosso
Let’s try an experiment
Step #1 of the experiment:
Think about your morning routine from the time you awaken in the morning till you get the kids off to school, or till you get off to work. Think only of the things you do for yourself to get yourself ready, not what you do to get your kids ready.
Break down each task into the smallest of steps, and think of every step along the way.
Now change just one of steps, or the order of just one of the steps.
Take note: How did that work out for you?
How ‘Routine’ helps us
We don’t fully realize how much we accomplish on ‘autopilot’. If we had to think about all the tasks we accomplish, we’d be completely exhausted before noon. By relying on routine, we can simply put ourselves on ‘autopilot’ and not really even think about what we’re doing; we just do it. That can include even complex tasks such as driving to work, making dinner, and doing chores around the house.
Take advantage of ‘routine’ for your kids
If there are certain tasks for your kids to accomplish, it would behoove you to set-up a very specific routine, and stick to it. To the extent possible, do the same things, in the same order, at the same time, and the same way. This way, it becomes a habit, a natural part of the routine, and starts to get accomplished on ‘auto-pilot’ rather than with your ongoing pestering. It’s important to remove all distractions because, if your kiddo ventures over to the TV rather than to the next step, the progress toward habit-formation just got disrupted.
To assist in this process, use visual reminders (pictures of your child completing each step of the routine), simple checklists on a whiteboard, and keep the environment as organized and compartmentalized as possible (this section of the room is for studying, this section for sleeping, this is where your toys go…). The goal is for your child to rely more on the visual reminders, less on you, and over time rely less even on the visuals.
Yes, life gets in the way
No, it’s not possible to always carry-out a consistent schedule/routine all the time, but it is possible to carry out most of the time. The more you stick to the schedule, and maintain a consistent routine, the easier it gets.
What if my kiddo resists?
No need to wonder about that; your kiddo will, at times, resist. When they are playing video games and it’s time to move-on to the bedtime routine, I doubt they will always going to happily to their room to start getting ready. In those instances, use when/then prompts (when you’re done getting ready for bed, then you can have some free time to read before going to sleep… remember, we’re reading that story you really like…”). Also, simply walk over, turn off the games, and provide a gentle physical prompt to get your kiddo in the right direction. Remember, relying on your words often won’t get you very far; rely instead on routine, consistency, and consequences.
See what happens
Go ahead, give it a try and see what happens when you establish a consistent routine and stick to it. By the way, this applies for a three year-old, a 13 year-old, and a 23 year old; routine is vital for all of us and, without it, we’d all be having a much rougher time getting through the day.
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Have a wonderful week, and God bless.