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The Rich Reward of Routine

A routine is any activity that we do automatically on a regular basis. Children who grow up without routines, duties, and boundaries, grow up in an uncontrolled manner and become difficult to manage. According to the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, studies have documented that schedules and routines influence children’s emotional, cognitive, and social development. Predictable and consistent schedules in preschool classrooms help children feel secure and comfortable. Also, schedules and routines help children understand the expectations of the environment and reduce the frequency of behavior problems, such as tantrums and acts of aggression.

Routines can be established for everyday activities, household chores, family fun time, and devotions. They help children feel safe and teach them healthy habits, such as brushing their teeth, washing their hands, and taking a bath. Another wonderful aspect of routines is that they help eliminate stress and bring a tremendous amount of peace and order to the home because everyone knows what is expected of them. If established correctly, these set schedules can be a blessing to the entire family.

We are all creatures of habit, even to the point that we will unconsciously create a routine if we don’t already have one. A friend of mine had the habit of turning on the TV first thing in the morning, because it had been his father’s routine to watch the local weather for its impact on the family farm. But, my friend worked from home and really wasn’t concerned about the daily weather. Yet, his routine was dictated by default.

A morning routine is especially important for children to start off on the right track and get ready for the day. A morning of cartoons, stressful interactions about homework or getting dressed, and a rushed breakfast can be detrimental to your child having a successful day of focus and learning. Establish a healthy routine of rising in time, taking care of the morning ablutions, a calm, healthy meal, and words of encouragement for the day. Prepare the night before by having the children pack up their completed homework, pick out their outfits, and go to bed on time.

You will be amazed how much security and serenity the simple act of routine instills in your kids. It may seem simple on paper, but requires diligence and preparation on your part as parent. But, it is worth it for your own sake as well – wouldn’t you like to greet the day with calm instead of chaos!

Source: The Importance of Teaching Children Routines (www.milestoneparenting.com/productinfo/ImportanceOfRoutines.aspx, retrieved 5-18-10)

Wanted: Good Character – How to Motivate Your Kids

Rewards are powerful motivators for our kids to do the right thing–especially rewards that are linked to things they like and are interested in. Proverbs 10:6 says, “Blessings crown the head of the righteous…” Would you like your kids to begin taking the initiative to do things without being asked? Then get creative! Make up some “Wanted” posters and put them up around the house. Write what you WANT to see them do along with the REWARD (or the blessing) they’ll receive for taking the initiative to do it.

Example 1:

WANTED: Kid caught in a random act of kindness to a sibling.
REWARD: You choose the movie everyone watches, or the dessert for Friday family night.

Example 2:

WANTED: Kid brushing the dog even when it’s not on the chore list.
REWARD: You choose the restaurant for our next family outing, or play a board game of your choice with Mom/Dad.

Example 3:

WANTED: Kid caught cleaning up to help someone in the family.
REWARD: You get an extra story book before bed, or a stop over to play at a friend’s house after school.

Make this “Wanted / Reward” concept fun, fresh, and interesting by putting up a poster in each room of the house and changing the rewards every month or so.

The list of creative ways to teach and motivate children is seemingly unending. Ask the Lord to show you what is going to work best for each of your children at their individual age and situation. He knew each of them before He formed and “wired” them in the womb (see Jeremiah 1:5). Consequently, He knows exactly what is needed to motivate them to do right.