Why children should be able to function with structure and in a routine?


Unfortunately our kids are being ‘forced’ to follow a structured routine from a very young age as required by most schools and preschools. These days most homes are a dual income home and children are therefore placed in pre-school since a very young age.

If structure and routine isn’t instilled at home these kids will struggle to fit into the school environment and may be disruptive.

BUT why do some kids then struggle to follow a routine and resist structure?

  • There may not be any structure/routine at home and then this child will struggle to cope with routine in the school environment
  • Your child may struggle with motor planning. Your child hears what is expected but the message going from the brain to his legs and arms to execute the task gets lost/mixed-up e.g. struggling to get dressed
  • Your child may struggle with time management
  • Your child may struggle with concentration difficulties. This child will forget certain steps of task or what the instructions were
  • Your child may struggle with higher cognitive skills e.g. problem-solving/planning/decision making. Then the child won’t know which task is more important than the rest and will start with the least important task and won’t know which task is next
  • Your child may have sensory dysfunction and thus over-react/under-react to input from his/her environment
  • The child may have emotional stress/issues. A depressed child/bullied child’s emotional stress will cloud their judgement/motivation/or may cause acting-out behavior
  • Your child may have Oppositional Defiance Disorder
  • You may have a strong-willed child
  • Children with certain types of syndromes can always follow structure/routine e.g. Autistic children
  • Children that feel a lack of parental structure/authority
  • Children whose parent don’t agree about the rules/routine

Tips for parents

  • Kids will resist – expect it!!
  • Find a win-win situations for all parties involved when talking/setting up about the rules of the house. Talk to your child and find out their needs and wants. If possible give your child an option between A and B – this empowers them and makes them feel part of the rule/routine-making process
  • Have weekly family-meetings to discuss problems
  • Have clear-sit rules/routines/values/morals in the house that all involved understand
  • Have clear consequences if the rules/routines are not followed. E.g. when you don’t brush your tooth then there are no sweets for today….
  • Parents should have a positive outlook
  • Stay calm and don’t shout
  • Make a visual chart that the child can mark off as each task each completed
  • Be more relaxed about routines over the weekend
  • Parents should be consistent, predictable and follow through on consequences
  • Address/scold the behavior not the child and always talk about the incident afterwards so that your relationship don’t suffer
  • If your following a morning routine – do all the things than can be done the night before e.g. choose your clothes and put it on the desk/pack your school bag/make lunchboxes

What are the benefits of routines/structure

  • Most children need structure to feel safe and thus have emotional stability
  • Routines help kids and adults function daily and make life easier
  • Routines and ground rules eliminates power struggles
  • Routines help kids to know what is expected at what time
  • Routines help kids to become more independent
  • A bed-time routine helps kids to fall asleep more easily
  • A morning-routine helps kids to be ready one time

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