After last week’s column and radio show about bedtime routines, I had many conversations about routines that work well for young children. Today I thought I would try to write about why simple consistent routines work.
Much of what I learned about how routines work came from my experience with young children with autism. Because young children with autism are not as able as their peers to process spoken language, they stay calmer and are more willing to comply with our requests when the requests come as part of simple, consistent routines.
We all do best when we know what is expected of us. In other words, when we know the routine we feel calm. When there is no routine, but we are guessing at what is expected of us, we become anxious. When we are anxious, we make more mistakes, jump to conclusions, and have other difficulties. The first time taking an airplane trip is a great example. The stress of getting to where one needs to be on time in a huge, unfamiliar airport is daunting. You ask directions and can’t remember what you really needed to know. However once you know the routine, even today’s challenges of getting through security in an unfamiliar airport may be unpleasant, but hardly troubling.
So our little ones rely on us to provide familiar comfortable routines they can depend upon. They can learn that taking a nap isn’t such a bad thing, trying new foods will be okay because mealtimes are calm and happy, and cuddling together with mom or dad and a good story before bedtime is something wonderful to be depended upon.
Five little ducks went out to play
Over the hills and far away
Mama Duck said.“Quack, quack, quack”
Four Little Ducks came waddling back.
Repeat for 4, 3, 2, 1, and ‘no’
Speak not sing:
Papa duck said, “Quack, Quack, Quack.”
Five little ducks came waddling back.