The Importance of Routines

We all have daily routines. Routines might be different from person to person but we all use them to help us get through the day. Routines for the most part do not mean things happen in the exact same time every day, but rather an activity is sequenced in the same way (for example – we wash hands before eating, we sit at a table, we eat together, we then take our plate to the sink) Routines provide many benefits for young children –

  1. Security (social emotional development) – knowing that certain activities happen in a certain way every time provides children with a sense of normalcy and safety in a world that is mostly unpredictable to them. It helps them develop trust that an adult will provide them with what they need.
  2. Reduces behavioral problems – when a child knows what the routine is they will follow it more easily than a constantly changing routine, as they have a better sense of control. Routines also anchor the day with predictable activities, the more predictability a child has the better he is able to emotionally manage unpredictable events.
  3. Support health and safety – Many routines are developed around health and safety issues (tooth brushing, eating, holding hands when crossing the road, hygiene, sleep). It teaches children healthy habits.
  4. Support social development – many routines are developed around social interactions (greeting someone, eating with the family, play dates). Children learn how to interact socially in a safe, familiar routine.
  5. Transitions – routines help children cope with transitions. Picking the toys up at the end of a play date, placing the dirty dish in the sink after a meal, undressing as preparation for bath time and bed time routine, these routines all help children move from one activity to another. Routines can also help a child transition from one caregiver to another.

Based on “Routines and Why They are Important” from Zero to Three