During their first couple of years, children are taking in massive amounts of information. However, everything being new can be a lot process. Sometimes, it can even make children feel overwhelmed.
Establishing a routine gives children a sense of security. It allows them to feel safe when exploring the world and helps them develop their own time management skills. The routine they have as a child will also set the foundation for their future habits.
“When children have routines, they know what to expect and feel more comfortable,” says Kehinde Obeto, M.D., a pediatrician at Mercy Health. “Routines for children as well as a family help develop structure and create good habits. They also reduce opposition and prevent stressful situations.”
Dr. Obeto adds how important structure is when it comes to developing the mind and developing healthy goals. Bedtime, brushing teeth and meal time are some of the most important steps to have in a child’s daily routine.
Children are dependent on their caregivers during the first years of their life. So, when can you work on transitioning your child to become more independent with their routines?
“Age two, or once potty training has begun, is a good starting point for setting independent, self-sufficient goals and simple routines — bedtime, teeth-brushing or handwashing can be encouraged,” says Dr. Obeto. “Generally, routines should be fully established by age four, or pre-kindergarten.”
When it comes to routines and children, the earlier the better. However, it is important to remember that every child is different. They all develop at different rates. Parents should not get discouraged if their toddler does not want to eat breakfast at the same time every morning.
Also, allowing for extra time in your child’s routine is a good way to plan for events that are out of your control.
“With children you should plan for the unexpected,” says Dr. Obeto. “For example, you never know when your little one is going to have to go to the bathroom and babies can’t hold it. Suddenly, you’re late to the party. So, definitely allow for some extra time in case of mishaps.”
Establishing routines and forming good habits takes a lot of time – and a lot of trial and error. But once you have one down, it becomes like second nature for you and your child.
Learn about the pediatric care services offered at Mercy Health.