Whether your child is an infant, toddler or a preschooler, you just want them to be disciplined enough to follow a routine. When they are toddlers, routines help them feel safe, knowing their mum is going to be with them right before and after she goes to work. When they are toddlers, they will feel happy and comfortable knowing that their dad will always play with them in the morning before going to the gym.
Certain activities and tasks like bedtime, mealtimes and playtime would have to be instilled in their minds by making it a habit. A task becomes a habit only if you do it consistently for more than a month.
Here’s how you can train your child to follow a daily routine.
1. Start early on: Teach them the difference between day and night
The best time to get their bedtime routine set in stone is when they are still infants. During the day, ensure the room is bright and fully lit up. Interact with your baby frequently by talking or playing games. At night, close all the curtains and make the room as dark as you can. Don’t talk to them at night and avoid playing with them too. You could do quieter, mellower tasks like giving them a warm bath or reading them a bed time story. This way they will know night time is for resting and daytime is for socializing and playing.
2. Fix their mealtimes
You can let them know it is meal time by sitting them down with you at the dining table and having meals together. Sitting them down helps them remember and focus on their meal rather than when you run after them while they are playing to feed them as they play.
Meal times would change over the months as they grow into toddlers. The number of feeding sessions would decrease and then increase whenever they have growth spurts over the years. You should fix their meal times and then review it as and when required.
3. Have a fixed bath routine
If your child doesn’t love bath time, you may have to try harder to get them to enjoy it. Ask them to sniff themselves before the bath. Next, ask them to touch their own skin and see how greasy it feels. You can then give them a nice warm water bath with help of a sponge and a bucket of warm water. Hand them a couple of bath time toys to play with while they are being bathed. Once they are done, make them smell their own skin and realise how pleasant they smell after the bath. Also, after moisturizing, show them how soft and clean their skin feels.
If your child loves bath time, then there is nothing like it. As soon as they wake up, start by brushing their teeth. After this, give them a warm bath and then, dress them up neatly before you give them their first meal of the day. This way, your child will know that the first thing to do when they wake up is to freshen up. This habit will stay in their mind for long.
4. Keep few activities flexible, but mandatory
You should keep play time, study/homework time, and room clean up as a mandatory part of their daily schedule. But don’t fix the timing of these tasks. Some days, your child may have an increased amount of homework to finish and some days s/he may have to study for a test due the next day. On those days, you would have to increase their study/homework time and maybe reduce their play time. Similarly, on days that they win a prize or did well on a test, you could reward them by increasing their play time or perhaps cleaning up their room for them.
5. Review the schedule once in a while
It may be needed to review the schedule every month, as a lot changes around the house in that time. Your work timings may have changed, your child may have exams coming up or there could be a disruption due to guests at home or a doctor’s appointment. Whatever it is, if you feel the need to change something in your child’s routine, sit them down and let them know.
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