Mental Health, Uncategorized, What's New|

The beginning of a new school year and the arrival of fall remind us of the importance of routines. While we always enjoy a break from the same-old, same-old, getting back into the familiar routines of fall creates stability and a sense of the familiar. For young children especially, those familiar routines are important to their overall healthy social and emotional development.

Routines Help Children

  • Make sense of the world and learn how the world is organized.
  • Feel secure and safe when many things in their environment, including themselves, are constantly changing.
  • Develop their ability to regulate their own emotions and behavior.
  • Learn skills and internalize habits through repetition.
  • Learn self-discipline and develop personal responsibility.
  • Set their internal body clocks (e.g., by eating meals and going to bed at the same time every day).
  • Have a sense of independence and autonomy when much of what happens is out of their control.
  • Engage in fewer power struggles, arguments, and conflicts with parents and caregivers.
  • Develop confidence and self-esteem as the various tasks are mastered.
  • Anticipate and look forward to what comes next.
  • Have continuity, consistency, and predictability in their lives—all very important in a world where much is unpredictable.

Tips for establishing and enforcing routines

  • Create visual reminders or a picture schedule for a typical day.
  • Plan structured activity periods; e.g., right after a nap, play a game.
  • Break routines into steps; e.g., getting ready for bed (bath, pajamas, brushing teeth, story time, singing).
  • Prepare the child for transitions from one activity to the next (“In 10 minutes, we will …).
  • Develop regular routines for daily activities, such as meals, bed time, story time, quiet time. Be flexible and creative; try not to be rigid and unable to adjust to unusual circumstances.


Get information on what changes you should expect as your child grows with the Developmental Milestones Checklist

Call Pennsylvania’s CONNECT Helpline at 1-800-692-7288 for information about your child’s development and connecting to Early Intervention Services in Pennsylvania.

Get information about the Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Project.

Click here to print the infographic: Creating Routines

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