Many young children struggle when they are asked to transition from one activity to another. This can often become most apparent during particular times in a child’s daily routine. For instance, getting ready for school in the morning, leaving activities they are enjoying, or getting ready for bed at night.
Although there is never one solution that works for everyone, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when thinking about a young child’s day.
Predictability and consistency: Children often function best when they know what to expect. Of course, our lives can’t run exactly the same everyday, but building in some consistency can help children to prepare for the next task of the day.
Reminders: Young children often benefit from visual reminders of their routine. For instance, you and your child could make a chart that outlines part of the day. For instance:
- Brush Teeth
- Get Dressed
- Eat Breakfast
- Pack Backpack
If your child is too young to read, next to each of these words you and your child could draw a picture. Having your child help you draw and color in the pictures can help to build investment in the chart as she or he is actively participating in its creation.
Rewards: If children are struggling with following a routine, small incentives can be used to help the child learn a new routine. For instance, in the example above, a child could earn a sticker for every day that he or she is able to complete at least 4 out of 5 things on the chart. An older child might earn a point a day that goes towards a small prize when a certain number of points are accumulated.
Each child is an individual and will need a plan that supports his or her natural strengths. However, the thoughts outlined above represent some of the keys that often go in to successful routine planning with children.
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