There is something that all parents have very clear in theory but that, in practice, seems more complicated to fulfill: propose good habits and routines to childrenand that these work. They are essential for the good physical but also emotional development of our children, hence the importance of establishing them at home in a respectful but effective way.
To find all the keys to help us, we have spoken with the pedagogue Mario Pinel. He has explained to us the importance of habits, has pointed out those that cannot be absent at home and has given us some tips to propose them to children.
What comes to mind when you hear the word 'routine'? If we analyze it from the point of view of an adult, it is possible that we inevitably think of one that is boring and repetitive. However, from a child's point of view, it translates into one of the most basic needs for their education and upbringing.
To know the importance of habits and routines for children, Mario Pinel usually makes a metaphor. We, adults and children alike, are a formless liquid. However, when we put this liquid in a bottle, that is, we put a habit on it, it adapts to the container in which we have introduced it. This object is what determines the type of life (and routines and habits) that we want for ourselves and for our children.
We cannot forget that these help to:
- Offer safety to children
If we establish that after eating, we brush our teeth and then do a meditation exercise to take a nap ... Children will know at all times what comes next. This gives them security, foresight and peace of mind.
- Build a caring and safe environment
Children feel better, more secure, with more confidence in themselves and, therefore, the family environment manages to be more affectionate and calm.
- Encourage organization at home
When we put habits and routines at home, family organization is easier. Everyone knows what to do and when to do it; we all fulfill the tasks to which we have committed ourselves.
- Help children become more autonomous
As explained in detail in the research work 'The importance of habits and routines in 3-year-old children' by Carmen Inmaculada Bedia Sebastián for the International University of La Rioja, habits help children to be each day a little more autonomous. And it is that when the little ones acquire a good habit, they can incorporate it at any time of their life, which helps them to better know how to face their daily life, without external help and, therefore, in a more independent way.
- Teach important values to children
When we incorporate habits into our family life, we teach our children to be co-responsible (we all take responsibility for tasks), committed (we fulfill our responsibilities), constant (we have to strive for what we have to do) and we appreciate what we have.
Habits and routines also help make living at home easier and more enjoyable. Therefore, these are some of the habits that cannot be absent in your home.
- Healthy eating habits
Babies have a 'virgin' palate so the first years of life should lay the foundations of healthy eating.
- Good sleep habit
Habits and routines also help sleep, as they predispose children to slow down until it is time to go to bed.
[Read +: Healthy sleep habits for children]
- Good hygiene habits
It is in childhood when we must teach children the importance of showering, brushing our teeth, washing our hands ... In short, good hygiene habits.
- Habits of order
Everything has its place at home and we must all participate in its organization. We can play, but then we have to collect. To make this habit work, we can propose to the children a schedule for order and disorder. For example, the living room will be a games room for everyone, until 7:00 p.m. At that time, we have to collect all the toys (that is the habit that we are going to establish) so that we can all use the living room for family dinner.
- The habit of speaking softly
If we usually speak to our children on a volume 8 (on a scale of 0, which is silence, and 10 which is thunderous screams), when we get angry we will use a volume 9 or 10. Almost without realizing it, we will be speaking to the children in too high a volume. And, as with the drop that constantly falls from the tap or the steps of the neighbors above, when the ear gets used to hearing something, it stops listening. Do you want this to happen in your home? Let's talk softly!
- Loving us a lot! (and each time more)
Love and affection is also a habit that can NEVER be lacking in our home.
And how can habits be better established? We give you some keys!
1. Listen to children to find out what they need
Although general advice is often given, the truth is that not all of them work for all children. Each of them is unique, and therefore we must stop and listen to our children. It is possible that each of them has their own rhythm and their own way of seeing the world, so the habits and routines that we propose must be adapted to their personality.
2. Establish routines according to what we are looking for
The key to making routines work for us is to look for and bet on those that adapt to the type of family we want to form and the values on which we want to sustain it. To do this, we must sustain these routines in love and not in fear (fear of punishment, fear of being yelled at ...).
3. Put the routines, step by step
The best way to put routines to children is to do it little by little, step by step. For example, if we want them to get into the habit of setting the table, one day we can propose the game of carrying a napkin (which is very heavy!) To the table. The next day, they will have to bring a glass (watch out, it breaks!). Another day, bread ... And so, step by step, the children will get into the habit of setting the table.
4. Dialogue and active communication
Should we 'negotiate' the habits we have at home? Mario Pinel explains that when we hold a family meeting to set and agree on 'the rules of the game', children feel they are part of the process and, therefore, are more predisposed to accept them.
However, we can never forget that those who 'rule' at home are always mom and dad. And, therefore, it is always your voice that will prevail, especially when it comes to the standards necessary for there to be safety at home.
5. Encourage collaboration at home
Collaboration and responsibility are two of the values that we must transmit to children and that help everyone to abide by and comply with routines.
6. Seeking children to empathize with how we feel
If our children empathize with us when they see that we suffer when they ignore us, despite repeating the orders a thousand times, they will begin to comply with the habits that we propose.
7. Be stable, but be flexible
For habits to work, we must be constant and stable, as well as clear with the 'rules' of operation. However, we can also leave some room for flexibility (80% routine - 20% flexibility, Mario proposes).
8. Establish habits as if it were a challenge
When we raise habits (for example, the habit of studying) we can do it through challenges and games. What if we encourage our children to challenge themselves little? For example, do a division in one minute or write an essay in 20 minutes.
9. And when are we going to lose our nerve?
Often times, the situation at home can turn into a high-end car with a great power that accelerates, and accelerates, and accelerates ... And the nerves get more and more, while the screams increase and we say things uglier ... How can we slow down and help our children slow down? We breathe and I sip water! Thanks to drinking water we will be able to 'put out the fire'.
10. It's never too late to establish routines
We human beings love to have routines (although we do not want to accept it always), so it will never be too late to propose habits.
11. Enjoy our children's education
Above all, educate our children from affection and enjoyment. There is no better guide to establishing habits than through love.
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