Setting Routines


You are teaching a class to parents on the benefits of setting routines. You notice that the parents seemed a bit disengaged. You get the sense they just don’t think this will work in their household. So you ask some open ended questions, such as “What is the most difficult thing for you when setting a nightly dinnertime?” Here are some of the parent responses. How would you respond to each of these (there may be multiple correct answers)?

“My five year old isn’t hungry at 5:30 when I serve dinner. So he doesn’t eat. Then he wants a snack at 7:00 before bed”.

“We have a really busy life. My husband and I both work full time. Some days I don’t get home with my kids until 6:00. My pediatrician says my kids should be in bed by 7:00. How am I supposed to fit everything in?!”

“I stay home with my kids all day, so I have the luxury of not needing a set routine, because I can do things whenever I want.”

Healthy Routines: Overview

Regular and consistent routines are important for children's development. Having a regular schedule and sticking to it creates a predictable environment for children. This helps them feel safe and secure. When children feel safe, they explore and learn more.

Children who experience regular routines know what to expect, so the day progresses with fewer behavior problems. For young children, the daily routines should include specific times for eating, sleeping, bathing, and playing. Routines also make it easier for parents to transition from one task to the next. Parents can use regular schedules to remind children what is next. “Bedtime is coming soon. We are going to have to start putting our toys away to get ready.” The most difficult transitions are from very active play to quiet time. Having a regular routine for these periods in the day will help create smooth transition and avoid tantrums.

Maintaining a regular routine also helps kids deal with stress and any major changes that are happening. As children get older, having an assigned job in the family routine (setting the table, making a salad, doing the dishes) helps them develop responsibility as well as learn time management skills.

Toddlers and Preschoolers:

  • Consistent wake up and bed times

  • Meal times

  • Play time

  • Hygiene time: bath, teeth brushing

  • Chores: putting toys away, setting the table, simple tasks in the kitchen (mixing, spreading, tearing lettuce)

  • Story time/Quiet time

School-age Children:

  • Consistent wake up and bed times

  • Meal times

  • Play time

  • Hygiene time: bath, teeth brushing

  • Chores: setting the table, putting dishes away, reading recipes and beginning to cook, cleaning room, making up bed, caring for pets

  • Homework

  • After school sports or activities

Nutrition Educator Training

Read the Scenario at the top of this page.

Then read through the materials on Healthy Routines: Overview, Application, and Tips.

Note the Additional Resources (but you do not need to read them all at this time).

Please RIGHT CLICK the link below and select "open in a new window".

Submit Your Responses