Routines (page 3)
Establish routines to let your child know what to expect and how to behave. This helps avoid and reduce behavior problems.
Routines help infants learn to anticipate what will be happening next and to understand sequences of events. The repetition of routines encourages your baby's memory development, and the consistency helps her adjust to a regular schedule. Consistent patterns for feeding, diaper changes, bedtime, bathing, and getting dressed become familiar to your baby. Familiarity helps soothe and reassure her. Use these routines to talk to your child and tell her what you're doing. Even if she cannot understand your words, the sound of your voice comforts her, and she pays attention to the pitch and sounds of what you say. This encourages her language development. Routines create a comforting environment for your child that makes her feel safe and loved. Knowing that you will be there for her when she needs you gives your child more confidence to explore and try new things.
- Make diaper changes and other routines fun by counting your baby's toes, gently tickling her tummy, and using your voice and facial expressions to keep your baby's attention.
- Between 3 and 6 months, your child's sleeping habits will become more regular, and she will be able to go for longer periods of time without awakening. Creating a soothing bedtime routine helps your baby learn to comfort herself and to return to sleep after waking up.
- Reading to your child regularly before bed is a wonderful way to spend time together before she sleeps. Making this routine will help your baby know when it is time for bed. Reading also encourages your child's language development.
- Between 6 and 9 months, your baby will begin to have an eating routine and a routine for soiling diapers. While daily feedings and diaper changes may seem tedious to you, they are wonderful learning times for your child. Talk to your child and tell her what you are doing. Make it fun! This is how she learns.
- As your child's sleep schedule changes, continue to maintain your bedtime routine. This will encourage her to go to sleep at a regular time and to return herself to sleep if she wakes up.
- Your child learns by repetition. Dropping a ball again and again helps her learn what happens when it hits the ground, where it goes, and what sound it makes. Games like peek-a-boo and patty-cake help your child learn about cause and effect, and they promote memory development. Repetition will also help your child as she learns to stand and walk. Trying again and again teaches her muscles how to work together and makes them stronger.
2 to 3 Years of Age
Routines for eating, sleeping, and getting ready in the morning help life run more smoothly. They also foster good habits and good behaviors in children. Bedtime routines such as brushing teeth, taking a bath, and reading a bedtime story teach children the importance of these activities, and they also help the day wind down before bedtime. Once your child learns that bedtime is at 8pm and that there is a consistent routine that goes with it, she will learn that putting up a fuss will not change anything. Routines foster a safe and predictable environment. When your child understands what is happening and why, she feels safe. Feeling safe is crucial for learning and development to take place. Your toddler learns to interact with other people by the relationship she forms with you. Through consistent and loving routines, you can form a trusting and loving relationship with your child. Your child will use this relationship as the basis for how she interacts with other people in the future.
- Your child is growing and learning at a vigorous pace. Your toddler is active, curious, learning to play with other people, and trying new things. She learns through doing things over and over again. This is why she may ask you to read the same story or sing the same song repeatedly. Repetition also teaches her about actions and consequences and how one affects the other. Understanding this is essential to positive discipline.
- Getting up and ready in the morning can be stressful. Establishing a morning routine for both you and your child will help this process go more smoothly.
- Your child can now feed herself. Mealtimes, especially dinner, are a wonderful time for your family to spend quality time together. Even if your child is not eating the same foods as the rest of the family, she will want to be included at dinnertime. For many children, eating dinner together is a family tradition that they remember fondly and hope to pass on to their children.
4 to 5 Years of Age
Routines help life run more smoothly and let your child know what to expect and how to behave. These are essential elements of positive discipline. Simple routines, such as family dinners and reading together, can also develop into fun family traditions, such as big Sunday morning breakfasts, weekly trips to the library, or devoting one evening a week to a special dinner or game night. Both simple household routines and fun family traditions help children feel that they play an important role in the family and that they belong. Establishing traditions within the family reinforces the unique and important role each person plays that makes the family special. This helps strengthen relationships and gives children a sense of security and belonging, which leads to better social skills, improved self-esteem, and emotional growth for your child.
- Your preschooler will be talking, playing, and doing things on her own. She will be dressing herself, learning to write her name, and putting together puzzles. Setting aside time each day to play with your child, help her get dressed, and read with her lets her know that she is loved and is an important part of the family.
- Your child will be doing and saying lots of funny and memorable things. Retelling stories is a wonderful way to establish a sense of family history, growth, and uniqueness. Plus, your child loves hearing stories, especially when they are about her.
- Long car trips can be a great time to play silly games such as "I Spy," counting, and alphabet games. Games make car rides go by more quickly, help your child practice number and word skills, and they are often remembered even more fondly than the destination!
- Developing routines early on for bathing, brushing teeth, reading before bedtime, and getting up in the morning makes it easier for your child to learn to do these things on her own, and she is more likely to continue using these routines as she gets older.
- Other ideas for establishing family traditions through routines are: putting your child to sleep with a lullaby or story, waking her up with a song, taking walks together, making dinner together, using dinner as a time to share family stories, taking bubble baths, and going on family excursions.
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