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Tips for Starting a New Routine

  • Set rules and limits and offer reminders.

    • When a child wants to play at mealtime, say, “It’s time to eat. You don’t have to eat, but you do have to sit with the family.”

    • When a child says they aren't hungry for dinner, say, “You don’t have to eat if you aren’t hungry, but we won’t eat again until snacktime.”

    • Follow through on the rule every time - even when a child throws a tantrum or engages in a fight. Repeating the rule as the only response to combative behaviors can help parents stay consistent.

    • When shopping, remind children, “We can only buy what’s on our list.” This helps avoid "impulse" purchases that may not be healthy choices.

  • Set regular times for things that happen every day (waking up, going to bed, meals)

    • Tell children the plan. Remind them of the schedule and what will be coming next.

    • Allow time for a transition between activities. "You will need to wrap up your game and sit down for dinner in 5 minutes."
    • Make shopping trips with children short. Take breaks between activities and errands during long days.

    • Plan trips around children's schedules. Avoid doing things when they will be hungry or tired. 

    • Bring along healthy snacks for longer errands.

  • Use praise to help children learn the routine

  • Be flexible, sometimes children have a difficult day