Updated: Sep 6
I grew up in a large Catholic family where the family schedule changed weekly, maybe even daily. I was the youngest, so my activities typically depended on my parent’s calendar and whether my older siblings were already engaged in their own activities. When talking about child development and formation, it is important not to confuse the family schedule with the family routine. The family schedule and activities may fluctuate depending on the stage of life of the family members.
A family routine is not the same as the family schedule. A family's routine is typically rooted in their values, priorities, family traditions, and sometimes even their heritage, culture, or religion. The family routine is generally more stable and reliable than the family schedule.
Routines and rituals add a sweet predictable layer of insurance for children, and they give a sense of identity and belonging necessary for healthy emotional and cognitive development. Traditions, routines, and predictability give children a sense of themselves, providing space that helps to promote independence, risk taking, and a stable emotional connection to something larger than themselves.
Family routines, predictability, and traditions:
1.Encourage a sense of security
Routine offers safety, stability, and security. When children know what to expect from their day, they feel secure and less anxious. Predictability provides them with a foundation of comfort, enabling them to explore the world with confidence.
2. Builds independence and self-discipline skills
Regular routines help children develop self-discipline and time management skills from an early age. Through repetition they learn the importance of daily tasks, skills that serve them well as they grow into responsible young adults.
3. Strengthens emotional regulation
Consistent routines help kids feel as if they are in control over their day. As they anticipate familiar activities, they can better manage their reactions and emotions, leading to improved emotional regulations.
4. Promotes cognitive development
Good brain development depends on engagement. Predictability plays a role in cognitive development because when children know what to expect, their brains can focus on exploring new information and learning. This is why structured environments, such as classrooms, are so effective in facilitating learning - they provide a predictable framework within which children can absorb new knowledge.
5. Foster healthy habits
Healthy habits are easily fostered through routine. Whether it is proper hygiene and sleep patterns, or simply having a designated mealtime, predictable routines make it easier for children to adopt and maintain these essential habits that contribute to their overall well-being.
6. Strengthens Relationships
Shared routines like bedtime stories, mealtime traditions, or Saturday morning chores provide moments for children and parents to connect, communicate, and create memories. The consistency of these shared experiences deepens the parent-child relationship.