readingThe early years are important years for developing security, self-discipline, and emotional safety.  Routine and structure play important roles in setting those foundational elements in place.

When you think about it, life is filled with changes.  Even in a child’s life, change is happening all the time. They move from the breast to a bottle. Their body is growing and they outgrow their favorite pair of pants.  They sleep in a crib, then a bed.  As they enter school they change classrooms and teachers every year. They move to new classes at church.  Change is a part of growing up.

In the midst of all that change, they need some stability. Daily routines teach self-discipline as well as provide stability.

Here are important routines to set in place when parenting in the early years:

1) Morning routine–Breakfast, brush teeth, fix hair, snuggle, read books, and make bed–some of these may make up your preschoolers morning routine–you decide what to include and what not to worry about.  If you can do them in the same order each day, it develops into a rhythm that translates into self-care habits as they grow older.

2) Meal Routine–Can they help set the table. When we sit down, do we pray together before we eat?  Do we put on a bib?  All of these can be an important part of a meal routine.

3) Nap/Rest Time Routine–Little ones need a daily nap or rest time once they outgrow naps.  Naptime after lunch might involve finishing up lunch, helping to clear the dishes, and then reading a few books and laying down to sleep.  Once they start to grow out of naps, they still need some quiet time where they read quietly, play with Legos in their room, or just have some time to lay on their bed and listen to music.

4) Bed Time Routine–Little ones need a set bedtime usually somewhere between 7:30 pm and 9 pm.  As we established yesterday, preschoolers don’t make good leaders. Don’t put them in charge of their own bed time.  Sleep is an important part of their physical development.  Once a bed time is determined, a routine can be set such as bath, story, prayer, bedtime.

What about you?  What other routines would you add that are important for the early years? 

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