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Routines and Habits – Good or Bad?

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DAD.info

31 Mar 2014

Routines are great for helping adults manage their own time, as well as a child’s behaviour. However, routines can become something that enables the child to develop, but then hinders them if it becomes a crutch on which they rely upon.

The most obvious is the pacifier used to help sooth a baby when crying, a routine which starts off as a big help which many parents have used, with the understanding of how much of a nightmare it can be to get a child off a dummy.

When my eldest had problems getting to sleep (something inherited from me LOL), we used a routine at bedtime we labelled ‘shift’.  The routine which involved having a glass of milk and biscuits about half an hour before we were wanting to go to sleep, followed by some quiet time. After teething troubles, it started to work wonderfully until you need to have a late night with him going to bed after an event or evening out like a school play and it became a hindrance because he could not go to sleep until after shift. He started to associate the routine with being the reason he could go to sleep.

As adults, we develop a routine for all sorts of things before we go out to work or when you’re doing things like making the kids lunches, or getting ready to go to work. Many things we learn are through routines to encourage good habits, remember the cockpit drill when learning to drive?

However, what happens when that routine starts to hinder us? When it becomes a habit or a behaviour that stops us developing, how about when we laugh it off as a touch of OCD?

Working in sport psychology, the use of routines or positive behaviours including in training and in an event or just before an action is common place. Remember the precision of Johnny Wilkinson’s kicking routine; every part of it had a purpose.  Some routines we do consciously and others unconsciously, however, these routines can become a dependency.  If the routine is not right, the athlete doesn’t feel they can perform.

As a parent we want our children to succeed to be comfortable to be happy. The routines we give them are often good for life, for instance- bedtime routines such as brushing teeth and washing your face.

A routine that has been established and has become habitual needs to be reviewed- is it worth changing it if it no longer has the desired effect? You don’t go to the gym to do the same workout for six months as your body gets used to the routine; you need to change the routine to allow yourself to grow and develop.

What routines do you have with your children that you feel are for their benefit? Or are they for your benefit as the parent? What routines do you have with your children that you could take away tomorrow with your child wouldn’t notice, or that they do notice and it leads to problems?

As a parent, I believe routines are a necessity. They should not be something written in stone, good routines have got flexibility to change both a child and adult. A parent should understand they can be changed and have skills to deal with that. Alongside routine, we need to give our children (in my opinion) the ability to manage that change and except it.

‘til next week.

Marc.

 

 

 

 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of Dad.info. 

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