Providing structure for your child helps encourage healthy growth and development. Much like in school, having a schedule alleviates the fear of uncertainty, which often lessens the chances of behavioral outbursts. Creating these positive behavior routines (schedules) can often be challenging for parents to do at home. Even though it may take some time to get a routine setup, once it is in place, families typically experience less stress, see less meltdowns and have children who are in a better place emotionally.
It’s important to remember that daily routines work best when they are consistent. Here are five tips to create and maintain a positive behavior routine at home.
- Make a sticker chart. Create a chart that lists basic tasks you expect your child to do on a daily basis, like brush their teeth, get dressed, comb hair, make bed, get ready for the bus, etc. Place a sticker next to each task that they complete successfully. It helps to establish a reward system to get them excited about earning their stickers. Choose a reward together or make it a surprise they’ll enjoy.
- Use a picture schedule to guide them through certain tasks, like getting ready for school or establishing a bedtime routine. A picture schedule can be as simple or elaborate as you like, it works well to have a laminated schedule that you can Velcro or tape on pictures of each activity. Depending on the age of your child, you can either break down activities step-by-step or have the overall goal pictured. For example, to depict brushing their teeth, you may have to show images of a person putting toothpaste on the brush, running the toothbrush under water, brushing, rinsing and spitting. For children who already understand the steps of activities like brushing their teeth, you may have a schedule that shows someone getting out of bed, getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, and getting on the school bus.
- Prepare your child for changes. If you know there is going to be a change in their schedule, let them know ahead of time so they can process the information rather than reacting when something unexpected happens.
- Start with small steps. Break down tasks so you’re not overwhelming your child with long lists of what they should be doing. Allow them to be successful at a task for 3-4 weeks before adding another step. The goal is to create success so they’re excited about accomplishing the future tasks you give them.
- Focus on the positives. Your child may not accomplish the set tasks in the timeframe that you expected, but it is important to give your child positive reinforcement to help them reach each goal.
It is helpful to have visuals, like the sticker chart and picture schedule, so your child can see what needs to be accomplished. And, when they ask about a certain routine, you can direct them to the charts and let them discover the next steps. This helps your child become more independent as they learn to do things on their own, which also fosters a healthy self-confidence. Remember that all kids develop at different paces, but no matter what pace your child is at, a supportive environment helps them be successful in conquering their goals.
If you are interested in more information or have any questions, go to www.strivetherapy.com or call STRIVE Therapy at 763-682-7774.