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The Importance of a Routine for your Children

The Journal of Family Psychology released an article in 2002 named, A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines and Rituals: Cause for Celebration? The article was written by Barbara H. Fiese, Thomas J. Tomcho, Michael Douglas, Kimberly Josephs, Scott Poltrock, and Tim Baker for Syracuse University. This research that started 50 years ago, suggests that family routines are related to parenting competence, child adjustment, and marital satisfaction. Studies suggest that routines can also promote children’s language acquisition, academic skills, social skills, and emotional bond with their parents.

I remember growing up with routines. We had a set routine at home, a routine to follow when we go on vacation and even a routine at my grandparents’ house. My parents really felt the need to keep us in a routine, even over the weekends we had a routine, a much more relaxed one, but we had one. So, here are 3 ways routines reduce power struggles, calm stressful circumstances, and promote humor, stability, and closeness among families:

1. Cooperation

Routines have a way of letting kids feel a bit more in control. Routines help prevent kids from feeling “pushed or bossed around” because they know the activity “is just what we do at this time of day.” Knowing what to expect helps them develop a sense of mastery and helps them be less oppositional, more cooperative, and more independent. A good way to develop routines are by using ‘when/then’ sentences.

  • When your homework is done, then you can have ice-cream.
  • When you clean your room, then you can play outside.
  • When you had a bath, then you can read a book.

This will help you to drastically reduce daily power struggles with your kids.

2. Routines offer safety

Kids that have daily routines tend to feel much safer and comfortable. A very good example of this, is when you set certain times for certain activities, such as a regular bed time, children will sleep better and longer. Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution, details how being absolutely consistent about a baby’s bedtime routine – such as bath, book, turn same light on, sing same lullaby, play same white noise, and give same pacifier and lovey – in the same order every day “cues” a baby that it’s bedtime, provides comfort, and helps him or her fall asleep easier. Having a set routine for after-school or weekends also helps kids relax and cooperate.

3. Stability

Routines can also help to comfort children in unfamiliar or tough circumstances. For example, if your child loves listening to you read a bedtime story before lights out, doing so might help him/her sleep in a different environment.

If you have managed to set up a routine that works for both you and your child/children, it is very important to stick to it. This will help you to have a calmer setting at home and your child will know exactly what they have to do and when they have to do it. Once all of this is established, you can set certain times for each child for a one-on-one bonding session with mom and dad. As a parent you will know what your child’s favourite activities are. Use this time to do these activities with them. It might be painting, building blocks, drawing, anything. Ask your child questions like “How was your day?” and “Who did you play with at school?”. Personal questions will let your child feel that you care about them and love them.


Having routines will ensure that you have enough time to play, do homework, sleep and spend time as a family.  Routines go hand-in-hand with certain rules as well. These rules would be rules such as “Every evening at 6pm we will eat dinner at the table together as a family” or “Every evening after bath time, we will all meet on mom and dad’s bed to talk about our day” or even “After dinner, we will clean the kitchen as a family”. Routines will also help you to teach your child valuable skills such as time management and the importance of family.

If you would like to read the article “A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines and Rituals: Cause for Celebration?”, the article released in 2002 by the Journal of Family Psychology, follow this link: