Having a predictable routine can help both younger and older children feel secure and happy. Routine charts are also a great way to help our kids take responsibility for parts of their day, and feel good about it! Win, Win, Win!
Download our routine chart for kids aged 3- 8, or tweens and teens.
How to use your routine chart
If you’re keen to introduce a chart, we’d suggest discussing it with your child the afternoon or night before you have a day at home together and can practice.
E.g. You might talk about it on Saturday, then give it a go on Sunday – when you can work through it together, offer lots of praise and help them understand what’s expected.
To get the ball rolling:
- Start by chatting with your child about the chart in a really positive way. E.g. “I really love the way you get dressed in the morning without me telling you (or something equally cool), but sometimes our mornings can be a little tricky, eh?” Feel free to acknowledge if you’ve been grumpy or any other stuff your child might like changed. It all helps with buy-in!
- Next introduce the daily chart. “So, I’ve been thinking about putting a daily chart in place and found this really cool one… “
- Take them through the chart very briefly – for young children or those who struggle with routines, just start by working at the morning. You can add the afternoon, and later, the evening section once they are ‘on board’ and used to routines.
- In your introduction, emphasise ‘ticking off’ activities as they complete them – perhaps with a special pencil. You might even like to get some cool wee daily stickers you can give them when they fill out the chart on their own, get a certain number of ticks, or complete a row. Show them these stickers and agree on a cool place they can stick them.
- An important note: Before you begin – check-in on your expectations, and make sure they’re set at the right level. Four year olds won’t be able to do up their shoelaces. Buttons could still be quite tricky. And beds will NEVER be as neat as you do them! If needed, lower the bar. You’ll have more success if you give them props for the steps they’re taking, than if you expect perfection. Whether they’re learning something new, having a go, trying to help or doing something well, it all counts.
- When using the chart, notch up the praise! High five them on their way to brush their teeth, thank them for making their bed, tell them you really appreciate their efforts to help out, and give them a hug and sticker when they have a run of ticks.
- Keep it positive and fun! Everyone wants to be where the fun is at. And keep it consistent. If you lose interest, they will too.
Does your child need an extra incentive?
If the old ‘praise and stickers’ approach just isn’t cutting the mustard, you may like to introduce a rewards system to boost engagement.
Rewards could be gained after a week of consistent effort or a certain number of ticks (15 or 20 to begin) or stickers.
- Let them choose from a range of low cost rewards, such as:
- A favourite activity with you
- A visit to the museum, park, beach or art gallery
- A friend over for a sleepover
- Sleeping in a hut you've built in the lounge
- An ‘at home’ movie with popcorn
- Keep this reward in place long term, or until the routine becomes ‘normalised’.
Need to change it up?
Eventually, you may find you don’t need your daily chart. Hurrah!!
Or, more likely, you’ll find you don’t need it for a while, then suddenly… you do again! Don’t panic. This is very normal. Even as adults we sometimes get busy, forget to do stuff, and need revert to those good ol’ to-do lists.
If your child wants to make their own daily chart – do it! Get out the pens, paper and glitter – or let them decorate a free chart you find online. Engage them in whatever way you can.
And don’t be afraid to change up your daily chart as the seasons, or their needs and routines change. E.g. If they’re great at brushing their teeth without being asked, you could take it off the list. But for a while, leave it there. It’ll balance out the things they’re struggling with, and let them know they already do some great things without thinking about it.
May the force be with you!
After extra tips and tricks?
There are free Canterbury parenting groups focused on building a strong relationship and positive routines with your child, tween or teen. Check out our course guide – there are heaps available!