If your child got upset today there is a very good chance that his or her routine was clearly challenged. Its true, all of us have expectations and when these are not met even adults can be left feeling low. Routine is so important for young children. In fact it could be argued, its responsible for holding their whole world together. Routine is indeed the key to your child’s self confidence.
Principle 27 of the National (Australian) Childcare Accreditation Councils document “Putting Children First” says;
“Routine activities such as eating, toileting and resting/sleeping provide security for children who do not yet understand the abstract concept of time. Routine activities divide the day into blocks of time and form a reference point for other activities that occur during the day, and this is important for a child who is developing self confidence and trust.”
I can do it
Ok, so now you should be asking;
“If its true then that routine is indeed the key to my child’s self confidence, then what is the most important thing to understand about their routine?”
I’m glad you asked.
Assuming then that your child’s home routine is age appropriate, here is the most important point about routine.
The more that your child is able to self-manage their routine the better.
It used to be that adults made all the decisions for young children. While some parents still do, most accept that some level of autonomy is good for a child’s self confidence. While most of us agree these daysthat kids need to make choices for themselves, a certain degree of balance will always be needed however. On the occasions when disharmony occurs from these choices, be sure to give your child another choice that will bring the situation back into balance. In other words, if your child’s choice is not appropriate be sure to discuss it further in such a way as to not erode your child’s self confidence.
Steps that lead to a child’s self confidence
Part of the reason routine is so important is because
it encourages your child’s self help skills and this in turn leads to greater things. Self help skills are the skills that your child performs that are related to their own care. This then forms the beginning of self reliance. The constant repetition of a task or event will allow self reliance to build and as your child is able to better herself both physically and emotionally, without your help, the transformation of independence then takes place. This then forms the very foundation of your child’s self confidence.
As suggested above, routines enable children’s physical and emotional needs to be met. If you have two or more children you will notice that due to their age difference and individuality their routine needs are clearly different. It therefore does not make sense to have the same home routine for both your kids- unless of course they are twins!
Explain its purpose
Here is how to start your child off when introducing any new aspect of a routine. Always explain its purpose. “We cant play at the park after kindergarten on Wednesdays because daddy gets home from work early.” If kids (or adults) know why they can or cant do something they will be more motivated to accept it. Even if your child is still too young to understand your words they will still understand your tone of voice and experience the emotion behind them, so its never too early to start this practice. Keep in mind that your child’s self confidence is a subconscious process that begins quite early in life.
There is no need to explain every routine all the time, just do it as the opportunity arises. The opportunity for this is when your child is most interested. They may ask questions such as “Why are you doing that?” You need to be ready for such questions. Try and give your child full answers as to why this new aspect of the routine needs to be done.
Another way to boost your child’s self confidence is through inclusion. As we all like to be involved in things, give your child choices and then include their preference into the new aspect of the routine.
As a final point most parents instinctively know that their child’s routine should be orientated to the rhythms and times of their offspring but sometimes things don't work out that way. Where ever possible be sure to time your child’s routine to match sleepiness, hunger and age.