Routines

Help children create routine charts to encourage self-discipline.

1) Create routine charts WITH your child.
2) Brainstorm tasks that need to be done. (bedtime, morning, homework, etc.)
3) Take pictures of your child doing each task.
4) Let the routine chart be the boss: “What is next on your routine chart?”
5) Do not take away from feelings of capability by adding rewards.

Many people miss the point of this tool card. The operative word is “WITH.” Many of us create routines for our children that make our lives (and theirs) easier, but the point of creating routine charts WITH our kids is to help them feel capable; to teach them skills, and to invite more cooperation because they are empowered by being respectfully involved.

One of my favorite stories about routine charts is the bedtime Routine Chart created with my son, Greyson, who at the time was 3-years-old. I prepared him for a few days simply by discussing it and telling him about it. He got excited when I told him we would go to Michael’s craft store to pick up some items, and then we would take pictures of him doing all the tasks he does before bedtime. He was more than ready when we finally sat down at the table with all our supplies.

First I asked him to tell me about all the things he needed to do before he went to bed. I explained to him that I would write them all down and then he would be able to pick the order that he wanted to do them. Luckily for Dad and I he picked the order that he was used to doing—like bath before pjs and teeth before books.

After we made our list I told him we were going to take pictures of him doing everything. He was so enthusiastic and was happy to pose for a photo doing each task. Then Greyson (with just a little help from me) stabled each photo to the ribbon we had purchased at the craft store. I made a number for each photo (Greyson was just learning his numbers) and he got to stick the numbers on the photos.

He loved running to his chart to check out what to do next. If and when he’d get side tracked, I’d simply say, “Greyson, what’s next on your chart?” He would run to the back of his door where it was hung and then run to do the next task.

Bedtimes are peaceful, stress free, and I can now say that I enjoy our bedtime routine!

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