Routine – whether in treatment, at school, or with family – is an important tool that can be used to enhance a child’s well-being and improve their likelihood of success in life and recovery. Schedules can create a sense of organization and structure in everyday activities. Expectations of what needs to get done and when are transparent, allowing a child to plan accordingly. Some activities can facilitate family bonding and a sense of belonging, which is so critical during this sensitive time.
Sticking to a schedule is also a life skill that teaches responsibility, time management, and self-discipline. Overall, your child might find that their stress and anxiety levels are lower when a routine is implemented. These lessons not only prepare for the transition into adulthood but also help recovering children to ground themselves in healthy habits that keep them stable and focused.
Features of a Good Routine
As a parent, you might be unsure of how you can help your child create a routine and actually stick to it. Every child is different, but good routines tend to have three features. First, they are well-planned. The child should be aware of what their role entails and why they engage in the task. It should also be fair and reasonable. Second, there should be some level of regularity in the activity. For example, maybe every night, your child packs their bag for the next day. The third feature is predictability. The child has expectations for what’s to come or what is expected of them. Overall, it is important that your child’s routine is consistent and that they are held accountable for sticking to it. Some examples of a routine your child could take up include:
- Making and packing lunch every evening
- Doing laundry, feeding the pets, or completing other chores
- Helping prepare meals with parents
- Exercising around the same time a few times a week
- Committing to an extracurricular activity
Getting Your Child To Commit
Knowing what goes into a good routine is the first step. The second step is actually getting your child to stick to it. There are five tips that you can test out to increase the chances your child will not only follow their routine but actually look forward to it.
The first is allowing your child to have some ownership in the planning process. This could help them be more accepting of the routine, especially if they are reluctant. Allowing the child to have a say also respects their autonomy and demonstrates that you care about their opinions. Another tip is to be aware of the time constraints you are creating for them. Some kids can complete certain tasks faster than others with ease. Others might become stressed when under a strict schedule. Prioritize what is most important to get done and when, and do a test run. The routine might need some adjusting and that’s okay! Tip number three is to be specific with your directions. Instead of saying “clean the refrigerator,” try saying, “throw out expired food from the refrigerator and wipe the shelves down.” When possible, allow them to use some discretion so they can practice planning and making decisions.
Another suggestion is to write out their routine on paper and post it at eye level to catch their attention. Some kids – and even adults – need frequent and clear reminders about what needs to get done. Keep the schedule or list to a few items so they are not overwhelmed. The fifth tip is to support your child in the process of getting used to a new routine. Not everyone adjusts at the same rate. Give them some time and acknowledge small improvements, offering reminders and assistance when needed. At the end of the day, you know your child best. Make sure you spend some time reflecting on how they’re responding to their new routine during recovery. As a parent, you might want to keep your own journal and keep track of your child’s progress.
Routines Are Good for Entire Family
Routines are not just specific to an individual. Children reap important benefits from learning how to manage a routine schedule early in life. However, the benefits can be extended to the entire household. Routines can organize the family unit, foster opportunities to learn from each other and create a sense of stability and security. Rituals, which are basically special routines, make clear what is important to the family and strengthen relationships. For example, maybe you tell your kids stories at night or watch Sunday football together. These aspects of familial routines are particularly important for children in recovery. A specific routine that could benefit the entire household is family therapy.
A routine is an important tool to enhance your child’s likelihood of success during the recovery process. This stage can be disorienting and confusing, but a routine can help provide the structure and organization your child needs to get grounded again. Learning to stick to a schedule teaches them responsibility, time management, and self-discipline. Although each child is different, a “good” routine tends to be well-planned, regular, and predictable. As a parent, understanding these three features is the first step in the right direction, but your child has to commit and follow through. There are different strategies that you can use to increase their chances of doing so. Located in Irvine, CA, Sustain Recovery is a treatment facility for adolescents going through a drug or alcohol addiction and recovery. We integrate various treatment modalities to provide adolescents with a positive, loving, and empowering environment. Call Sustain Recovery today to find out more about how our programs can help your child through recovery: (949) 407-9052.