The Importance of Routine for Children

December 26, 2016

Celebrated Austrian educator and psychiatrist Rudolf Dreikurs posited that “Routine is to a child what walls are to a house; it gives boundaries and dimensions to his life. No child feels comfortable in a situation in which he doesn’t know exactly what to expect. Routine gives a feeling of security. An established routine also provides a sense of order from which freedom grows.”

Dreikurs was able to develop a method of understanding and educating children, which shows how children’s abilities can be stimulated through cooperative behavior without needing punishments or rewards.

“What’s done to children, they will do to society.”

-Karl A. Menninger-

According to Dreikurs, bad behavior arises from a lack of respect for the social group one belongs to. When this occurs in the psyche of a developing child, it results in erroneous goals, such as inadequacy, power, revenge, and attention.

Routines and habits in children

We’ll continue along the same lines as Dreikurs. It’s clear that educating children without responsibility and security in early childhood will create future adults with serious behavioral problems.

child in front of screen

But how can you introduce children to the world of security, limits, and knowledge of their surroundings? Through routines and habits. This is a way to offer children a peacefully stable environment in which they can learn in a constructive way and develop a secure and conscious personality.

What is a habit?

A habit is a mechanism of stability that permits the development of an individual’s skills. It refers to attitudes, behaviors, and customs that lead to the formation of patterns of learning in different situations, from tying one’s shoes to organizing study time.

What is a routine?

Routine refers to a personal custom that is established because it’s truly convenient, without needing modification or flexibility. It can be as simple as brushing one’s teeth after eating.

The benefits of routines and habits

Both habits and routines are vitally important for children. On top of a stable, peaceful environment in which the child feels safe, they also provide a sense of regularity, constancy, and perseverance in the child’s mind, which is useful for their development into adult life.

Doing something they know perfectly well how to do creates a state of tranquility that can make them feel capable. It’s also important to notice that infants don’t know the world around them when they’re born. The first few months of life are a total discovery of their environment. Parents and guardians are their first guides in life. It’s necessary to organize a stable environment with schedules, routines, habits, and activities that are repeated until the child internalizes the skill and can do it securely and almost unconsciously.

child holding parent's hand

The organization that parents establish for the child allow the child to develop its own schema. That way, each child will get to know its world little by little and turn it into a predictable place which is therefore safe and stable.

Routines are vital for the physical and psychological development of the child. Schedules for eating, sleeping, hygiene, and all habits related to these basic functions are necessary for the child.

“When I grow up I want to be a little boy.”

-Joseph Heller-

A consistent way to avoid future behavior problems in children is to surround them with a secure world that allows them to explore safely. In this way, they’ll be able to discover and develop their skills, thanks to the stability that habits can bring to their lives.

 

Discipline and Love: How to Educate a Child