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The True Value of Routines

Step By Step Parenting Tips 7

Father and Daughter Having Breakfast
  • Children flourish in safe, predictable environments that cater to their well being. This is evidenced by ensuring:

  1. Your child has a healthy breakfast before they leave the house,

  2. Access to water and a healthy lunch,

  3. And then a healthy evening meal at a reasonable hour

  • A visual routine scaffolds children, so they can follow it independently

  • A routine helps a child feel safe because it's predictable

Have you ever wondered what it might be like, to be your children, from their perspective? 



Just imagine for a moment you're completely beholden to the care and whims of another human being. In your child's case, that would be you... as their caregiver.

Imagine, that while one day, you were woken to eat breakfast at 5:30 am, on yet another day, you weren't fed until 11:00.

Or maybe weren't fed breakfast at all.


Imagine alternatively you were fed breakfast at a reasonably reliable time say around 7:00 am.


Now would you feel more settled, if things were predictable, or if they were random?

Anchor 1

Children are generally happier and more settled if they're fed good foods at similar times each day.


For example: breakfast before they left the house, a healthy lunch with access to water, followed up by a healthy kid-friendly dinner at a reasonable hour.

Girl Brushing Dad's Teeth
Anchor 2

Helping to Develop Personal Responsibility

Routines ensured I didn’t waste time coercing or bribing my children to do what was required on a regular basis.

Everyone knew what was expected and with rewards for co-operative behaviour, over time, routines became independent and cumulative.

Over years, 'Get dressed' progressed from put the clothes on that are laid out on your bed; to locate your clothes from the ironing pile, iron them if necessary and ensure any dirty clothes are in the washing basket.

Our children learnt it was in their interest to co-operate because they they got more of what they wanted by being cooperative.


They could have positive attention for getting on board or gain less attention for being difficult.

Surprisingly most children will usually choose doing something positive with their parents over most other things. And even the mundane can be fun.


The Value of Setting Up a Visual Routine List for Young Children

Visuals on the fridge helped my children to get ready independently in the morning.


And instead of harping, I became a coach saying things like "How are you going with your list? Wow you're up to putting your socks on already... fantastic. You're even beating me."


The visual routine list changed what had been a twenty minute shoe and sock drama every morning with one son, to him putting his socks on independently. And all it took was a clear explanation of what was expected, with visuals so he stayed focused. After holidays even my older son referred to the visual routine chart to keep himself on track.

I've included a copy of my hand drawn visual routine list.


I kept it simple because it worked best that way. You'll need to introduce what the symbols mean on your visual routine list.

Anchor 3
Colorful Bed
Make Your Bed
Spring Outfit
Dress Yourself
Healthy Breakfast
Eat Your Breakfast
Red Toothbrush
Clean Your Teeth and Brush Your Hair
Sports Socks
Put On Your
Shoes and Socks
kids bedroom
Tidy Your Room

​​​​​​​​​You can also prepare similar routine lists for afternoon routines with visuals if possible to include the following. For example:

  • Put your shoes away

  • Take your lunch box out of your school bag

  • Put your lunch box on the sink and have a drink of water

  • Get your home reader out ready. Read for 10 minutes

  • Get any homework out and start it. Get it checked.

REWARD: A privilege after homework is completed (like an additional story, playing a game with them or a favourite TV program.)

After  teaching thousands of children I believe that most children would much prefer your positive attention rather than your negative attention.


But if they're getting no attention for doing the right thing, do you think they're going to continue doing it?


Perhaps ask yourself, if the things you do, aren't appreciated, if you're going to be happy about continuing to do them?


Do you think your children would be any different?

Children quickly work out what's in it for them.

Or another way could be using the computer to create a list with your child of showing images of similar items to what I included.


Or even better, (if you wanted to be even more innovative,) you could include photos of the actual items involved. Get your child to help you photograph the items and then include them as the visuals for your routine list. While this may take longer it gives your child greater ownership and therefore is more likely to increase their cooperation.


It might even show them brushing their teeth, eating their breakfast, etc. Whatever works best for you, is the better way to go.

If you laminate it you can add a star chart to the side if you wish. I didn't because adding stars can take too much time and can produce another process in time starved mornings, but it can be useful at the beginning to reinforce improvement. I wanted my children to have ownership of their own progress as I think it has greater long term success that way.


If you do use stars take a photo of the weeks result, wipe the start chart off ready for the next week and start again.

You can also purchase routine charts on the internet as well for around $20. Just type weekly routine charts into google search.

If you go this way, remember the simpler at the beginning, the more likelihood there will be of success.

If you have more than one child, you can also have a weekly overview routine so children know what activities they have on given days.


The advantage of preparing a weekly overview list is, as children grow older, they can accept greater responsibility for ensuring they have the gear ready for said activities.

Soccer Practice


If kids cooperate and there's acknowledgement or reward, they learn cooperating works for them.

Step 8: Natural Consequences teaches children the way the world really works


For more Best Parenting Advice on behaviour go to the following links below:

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This website provides examples of what worked for me over decades and you are welcome to use these ideas as you see fit but you do so at your own risk. Best Parenting does not provide any guarantee that this information will work in every circumstance with every family or with every child. It is your responsibility as a user of this website to ensure that you adhere to any recommended safety suggestions either implicit or explicit on this site and supervise your children while playing any games suggested. Similarly users of this website are advised to follow any recommendations for seeking professional advice as all information on this site is generic. Best Parenting is an independent website and is not affiliated with any other groups, clubs, religious organizations or educational systems.


Best parenting takes time. The best parenting advice ever is simple: Do your best, don't give up and love your children, no matter what.

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