Tips for Implementing Routines for Children

Be consistent but flexible: Routines are essential, but allow some room for flexibility. Although the Osborne family thought their bedtime routine was a blessing, there have been some problems recently. "I was completely rigid about my oldest son's bedtime, and he is now incapable of veering from that routine. If we are out later than his bedtime, he becomes upset," Eleanor says.

Unexpected events, like surprise guests or errands that cannot be postponed, may result in a nap in the car seat or a skipped meal. But if we react with frustration when this happens, our kids will, too. Try to prepare your child ahead of time for the change and reassure them that things will return to normal tomorrow.

Model good planning and organizational skills: Modeling planning and organizational skills exposes your children to the tools that can help them maintain control over their lives. Good planning doesn't put an end to all unexpected events (nor do we really want it to!), but it does go a long way to help you maintain your routines. Good planning, aided by tools such as a family calendar, can keep you on track for family success.

Liza Asher is a mother of four and writes on parenting issues for national magazines. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

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