In the first part of this guide, we discussed how to create a school night routine. Now we are going to focus on maintaining that routine and making it a consistent habit. Your children may be resistant at first, but they will ultimately feel better and perform better in school if they stick to a nightly schedule. Here are some tips for keeping up with your school night routine.
Follow through with the Rules You Make
If you tell your children to be in bed by 8 PM, stick to that. If you say 5 more minutes on a video game, mean it. If you allow your child to watch one episode of a show before bed, stop after that one episode. Following through with your rules establishes a clear set of expectations for your child. Saying no is hard the first few times, but it gets much easier when your child knows what’s expected of him or her.
Create a Nightly Checklist Your Child Understands
Children respond well to checklists. They can see the tasks that need to be completed, and they get instant gratification when they are checked off the list. If your child is old enough to read, you may be able to write this nightly checklist out in words. If not, use pictures to symbolize different tasks for the night – picking up toys, brushing teeth, reading a book, etc. Find a visual system that works for your child.
Set Alarms for Different Nighttime Tasks
If your child is old enough to have a phone, set alarms for different tasks each night. For example, you may have a warning alarm 10 minutes before the TV has to go off, then another when the TV must be turned off. You may have an alarm for nighttime medicine or for taking a bath. Alarms do not work for everyone, but they are good reminders for many children.
Avoid Using Rewards to Encourage Routines
You may be inclined to reward your child for sticking to the school night routine. However, doing so may send the wrong message. Completing daily hygiene routines and doing homework isn’t something that should be rewarded. That is just a natural part of growing older and gaining more responsibility. Encourage your child to abide by the rules, but don’t rely on rewards to achieve that. Your child needs to learn that sometimes, you just have to do things you’re not excited about.
Lead by Example
Your child watches your every move. If you have a nighttime routine, your child will mirror that. Of course, your routine doesn’t have to be the same as your child’s. You should try to live by some version of the same structure though. Leave your phone in another room for dinner, brush your teeth at a certain time, put work away during family time – do some of the things you are asking of your child. This will keep your family progressing as a unit.
For more parenting tips or to schedule an appointment with a family counselor near you, call Perspectives Counseling Centers.