Creating routines is one of the most powerful forms of limit setting that parents can do with their kids.
Positive Discipline routines help to…
- Eliminate power struggles
- Give kids a way to contribute to the family
- Provide kids with a sense of security and belonging
- Create a calmer atmosphere
- Teach life skills
Establishing good routines can be extremely helpful in curbing bad behavior as the child gets a good dose of power and independence so he doesn’t need to seek it out in inappropriate ways.
Here are some common routines that you can implement throughout your day:
- Morning routine
- Getting ready routine
- Cleaning routine
- Mealtime routine
- Grocery shopping routine
- Bedtime routine
Let’s dive deeper into each one…
The Morning Routine
Having a morning routine, especially when you have to be out the door for work/school/daycare, can be an absolute game-changer.
Power struggles happen when there’s no predictable pattern and limits are all over the place. One morning you let them watch TV as soon as they get up and the next morning they aren’t allowed to. One morning they get to eat breakfast right away and the next they have to wait until their dressed and ready to go. This will surely cause a tantrum!
Streamline your mornings with a routine.
If you need ideas for the perfect morning routine, check out this post!
The Getting Ready Routine
This can be included in the Morning Routine or can be separate if it’s done later in the day.
I’m sure we can all relate to the drama that comes with getting a toddler ready to go somewhere…
- Running away from you when you try to put on clothes
- Screaming that he doesn’t want to put on clothes
- Telling you “you do it!” when asked to put his shoes on by himself
- Becoming a limp noodle when you try to put his jacket on
Yep. We’ve all been there!
Well the good news is, a routine can help. Giving him the same predictable pattern each time he gets himself ready promotes independence and gives him a shot of positive power.
Elements of a Getting Ready routine might include:
- Put on underwear
- Put on pants
- Put on shirt
- Put on socks
- Put on shoes
- Put on coat
- Put on hat
Adjust and add as needed.
The Cleaning Routine
Routines typically work best when the whole family works together, especially when it comes to cleaning!
Choose a day and time each week to clean the house together. This activity should be included on your visual schedule (see Visual Supports below). For example, Sundays from 9:00-10:00 am.
Come up with a method that will work best for your family in terms of delegating tasks. For example, you could each be responsible for 1 or 2 rooms OR each member could be responsible for specific tasks like dusting, vacuuming, dishes, picking up, etc.
You could have everyone pick their desired tasks each week but that may result in some arguments! Personally, I would rotate tasks each week so everyone gets a chance to do everything (obviously some things will only be done by adults).
An important thing to remember here though is that every family member needs to be trained on how to do each task. You can’t expect them to know that.
Show them exactly what you want them to do and give them lots of opportunities to practice.
Making cleaning a part of your weekly (or daily) schedule will really help decrease the power struggles that come along with cleaning and picking up.
The Mealtime Routine
Make your mealtimes run a little smoother by establishing a specific routine. This will really boost your child’s sense of significance by allowing him to contribute and have positive control over this aspect of his day.
Elements of a Mealtime routine might include:
- Wash hands
- Sit on chair
- Say prayers
- Set table
- Wipe hands and face
- Bring dishes to sink
- Thank the chef
Adjust and add as needed.
We use these cards for our mealtimes and my toddler LOVES them!!
If you’re having mealtime troubles (throwing food, refusing to eat, etc.) then check out this post.
Make even smoother with a Rule Book around mealtime rules.
The Grocery Shopping Routine
If you have a toddler who hates grocery shopping, then you may want to consider a Grocery Shopping routine!
Providing him with a predictable pattern for a less-than desired activity can really help ease anxiety and negativity around it.
Elements of a Grocery Shopping routine may include:
- Get a cart
- Check the list
- Find items on the list
- Put items in cart
- Check out
In addition to using the routine to hand off some power and independence, try giving your toddler some responsibilities. Remember, this will increase his sense of significance.
This can be as simple as letting him check-off items on the list or putting items into the cart. You can get him excited about these “jobs” in the car on the way to the store. Talk about the steps in the routine so he knows what to expect and then tell him that he gets to be your assistant!
The Bedtime Routine
This is probably the most important one of all and the one that will have the biggest impact on you and your child. We all need our sleep!
Sticking to the same routine at bedtime can really help make your nights run a whole lot smoother.
A child who doesn’t have a predictable pattern each night (including a consistent TIME they go to bed) often exhibits behaviors like:
- Stalling (e.g. I gotta go potty! Now I need to blow my nose! I’m hungry! I need a drink!)
- Begging to stay up
They are all out of sorts because they don’t know what’s gonna happen next. It feels uncomfortable to them even if they can’t express that to you.
Now don’t get me wrong, these behaviors can happen even with a good routine in place but it’s much less likely. The routine brings them reassurance and security.
Elements of a Bedtime routine might include:
- Bedtime snack
- Pajamas on
- Brush teeth
- Go potty
- Read books
- Sing a song
- Lay down/lights out
Tips for Success with Routines
- Have your child help you come up with the routine elements if they are over 2 years old.
- Work with your child to figure out the order of elements.
- Display the routine so they can see it and refer to it.
- Use actual pictures of your child doing each step.
- Resist rescuing and lecturing (ask “What is next on your chart?” if they forget instead of telling them what they need to do next).
The best part about implementing routines is that children typically respond really well to them! Some kids may take a little longer to adjust to the change in general but once they feel that comfort that routines give them, they’ll love them!