The keys to a well-oiled routine

The keys to a well-oiled routine
These are the keys to a well-oiled routine.

These are the keys to a well-oiled routine.


Routines should be carried out in the same way and at the same time every day. “The goal is for children to learn their routines by heart and be able to anticipate the steps,” says psychoeducator Sarah Barbeau.


A routine doesn’t have to be rigid; you’re allowed a bit of wiggle room. For example, when David-Michaël, age 5, stays with his dad, Patrick, his bedtime routine ends with reading a story on some days and with listening to music on others. “It’s also okay to switch up a routine now and then by skipping steps or changing them around,” says Nathalie Parent, a psychologist. “Just make sure your child understands that you’re making an exception.” When it’s time for five-year-old Justine to go to bed, her parents take turns giving her a little massage. “It’s the highlight of her day,” says her mom, Stéphanie. “But if one of us can’t be there, we let her know ahead of time and it’s not a big deal.”


“Routines shouldn’t have too many steps,” advises Barbeau. “Otherwise, children forget what they have to do, and in what order.” That’s why routines should be tailored according to a child’s age and abilities.


Who says routines have to be boring? According to Nicole Malenfant, a childhood education teacher, it’s up to you to make them enjoyable. “Try to see routines as opportunities to have fun with your child. Children are more cooperative when they enjoy their routine, so it’s a win-win situation.” Bedtime stories are a great example. You can ask your child questions or have her predict what’ll happen on the next page. To add some fun to her morning routine, try telling her she can do one of her favourite activities (e.g., work on a puzzle, draw, play a game) if she gets ready on time.


Photo: GettyImages/Miodrag Ignjatovic


Naître et grandir

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, October 2018
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Scientific review: Solène Bourque, psychoeducator