Hello! Welcome back to the A to Z of Taming Tantrums video series. This video is about the letter R, and R is for Routines.
“The unknown” is one of the most fearful things for people—it’s even more stressful than taking a driver’s test or public speaking!
Fears for children can be hard for parents to understand, because sometimes the thing driving them into a screaming mess might be as simple as having a boiled egg rather than a scrambled one, or it can be something as complex as moving houses. Children are bombarded with changes every single day. This helps our little ones grow, but these changes can also cause great stress for them.
One of things we can do as parents to reduce the stress in our young child’s ever-changing life is to provide consistent daily routines. This can help during stressful and new experiences like giving up a bottle, going to a new daycare, meeting a new friend, or switching to a “big boy bed.” Routines reduce anxiety, and having regular daily patterns creates predictability—a sense of knowing what will happen next. In a world of growth and new things, routines provide children with a sense of safety.
Quite a lot of what a young child experiences is out of his control: what time he has to wake up/ leave the house, who he spends the day with, where he lives, and what is in his room. Children, just like most adults, handle these events better if they are expected and happen within a familiar routine. They will tolerate something very stressful (like leaving us) if they are in a place they know and doing things that are familiar.
In addition to helping our children feel safe and capable, routines help them cope with unexpected changes like a parent leaving for a business trip, a pet passing away, or a friend moving. When these unavoidable events happen, predictable routines create a foundation for their little lives. Young children can make it through big changes when they need to if they have routines to get them through.
“While helping children feel safe and ready to take on new challenges and developmental tasks would be reason enough to offer them structure, it has another important developmental role as well. Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively control themselves and their environments. Structure allows us to internalize constructive habits.” –Laura Markham, PhD
Please watch this video to learn more about why routines are important and what times of the day routines work very well in:
Here are six ways routines help to reduce tantrums:
A predictable order of doing things reduces power struggles because your child doesn’t feel he is constantly being told what to do. Nagging and reminding can be reduced when we use routines to let our children know what is happening next. “After we finish our bananas, then it’s time to go upstairs. Are we going to get there like elephants or crabs today?!” (These are some of the phrases from my Taming Tantrums app.)
Transition time can be the most stressful time of the day for toddlers. Routines during transition times help our little ones move from one activity to the next and provide cues that it is time to switch gears. I invite you to read this post about the importance of using transition routines, this one about morning routines, and this one specifically about getting two-year-olds out of the door in the mornings. Schedules are certainly easier with routines!
Toddlers can get quite upset when things feel arbitrary. Routines help children feel a sense of flow and habit throughout the day, reducing the element of surprise.
As time progresses, children will learn to do things like get dressed by themselves or put their water bottle into their backpacks without continual reminders when these events happen at the same time and in the same way each day. Young children love doing things for themselves—it feels wonderful to have a sense of capability!
When young kids know an event they love is happening soon, like going for a walk, they can look forward to that, which certainly helps them feel better.
We know that we need to attend to and connect with our children every day. We can fit that connection time into each part of their routines to make sure we don’t inadvertently get caught up in the schedule of the day and end up missing those critical moments. First thing in the morning and at the end of the day are great times to fit lots of snuggle time in the routine.
Thank you for watching this toddler video series. I invite you to look for the next video, which is S for Soothing Techniques, as it is one of my favourites—I show parents how to calm their back-arching toddler. I also invite you to write comments or questions in the video comment box or over on my Facebook page.
We're so excited to share with you the A to Z of Taming Tantrums video series!
Each week we'll share the next letter of the alphabet and Andrea will discuss how it relates to reducing tantrums - and improve our experience as parents! You can view each video here as they are added each Friday.