Routines provide a sense of structure and familiarity
Routines can help children to learn to constructively control themselves and their environments as well as internalise constructive habits such as basic self-care. This helps them feel stable and secure.
However, as much as we try our best to implement routines in our daily lives, regular occurrences such as the morning school run can increase anxiety and stress amongst family members.
How often have we found ourselves reminding our child half a dozen times to put on their shoes, to remember their bag or to comb their hair? Sometimes the way we communicate, amplified by tone and threats can affect the emotional wellbeing of both child and parent.
So how might we be able to eliminate the power struggle and reduce what may be considered nagging when all we want is be out the door at a reasonable time?
Visual reminders can assist learning
Visual reminders can prevent challenging behaviours and set healthy expectations of what is required and when. It gives children the opportunity to see and process what they are being asked to do to help learn a skill or routine, one step at a time. It is a tool that can be used to help things run a little more smoothly.
If children can see what comes next, children can learn to develop autonomy and competence without feeling like they are being pushed around. Children who feel more independent may have less need to rebel and be oppositional. With a bit of practice and descriptive praise along the way, this can boost their confidence. In the long run, this can save time when children automatically get things done without consciously thinking about it.
Another way to practice teamwork
Although some children like and need routine more than others, visual reminders for family routines can help siblings work together and cooperate. Everyone in the family can do their bit and work as a team. There are plenty of opportunities for self-reward and perhaps the motivation to work towards a large family interpersonal reward.
Help prevent and reduce anxiety and stress
Visual reminders are not a mere substitute for conversations and time spent with your child. The morning routine visual reminder is a strategy you may wish to use to replace constant verbal reminders. Verbal reminders or ‘doing the job for them because it is quicker’ may reduce the opportunity for children to learn to develop responsibility and independence in the first place.
Visual reminders might be helpful for children to learn and enjoy responsibility in a fun way. Here’s an example of an easy to follow daily routine which can be used for morning, evening, fly in day etc.
If you are replicating this visual reminder, you may wish to come up with interpersonal rewards for the ‘thumbs up’ and write down a chosen reward above the dots below.
How to make your own daily routine visual reminder
Start with a poster (like this one is from Big W), laminate it at Officeworks, print out the visuals (you can purchase and download printable routine picture cards here), laminate them (laminator and sheets from Kmart), cut out and attach to the poster using double sided tape and add some hook and loop velcro (from Spotlight or Officeworks) where needed.