Through my own experience with my stepdaughters, and with many years in the education system, I have learned the value of structure and consistency for children.
Learnersdictionary.com defines structure as, “the quality of something that is carefully planned, organized, and controlled.” Structure allows children to feel safe. According to Aha Parenting, “Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively control themselves and their environments.” Children develop confidence in themselves when they know what is expected.
Learnersdictionary.com defines consistency as, “the quality or fact of staying the same at different times.” Consistency allows children to be able to count on something. It gives them predictability and allows them to learn the value of keeping a schedule, time management, and self-discipline. Children then know what to expect from you and they also learn what to expect for themselves. Consistency is essential for children.
Constantly changing routines and schedules, and parenting inconsistencies cause anxiety, confusion, frustration, and unpredictability. As parents we can lead by example by having structure and consistency in our home, which will support healthy growth and development in our children.
3 Ways to Gain Structure & Consistency in Your Life:
1. House Rules:
Jenna Korf, certified Stepfamily Coach, suggests sitting down and creating house rules. Setting house rules, that all family members are expected to abide by, will help ensure a feeling of structure in your home. Sit down as a family and generate a list. Then choose a few house rules that work for you and your family. If you keep your house rules posted somewhere in the house, you can always refer to them when needed.
2. Keep to a Schedule:
Keeping to a schedule creates a stable environment. This allows for routine and predictability. Kids build confidence in handling their daily routines when they understand where and when things will be occurring. Repetition of a regular schedule will make daily routines much easier too.
My husband and I have a clearly defined schedule with my stepdaughters.
-I wake the girls up at the same time on school days
-The girls get dressed, brush their hair, brush their teeth and head downstairs
-Then downstairs, my husband gets them breakfast
-They eat and then clean up
-They make snacks and figure out lunch for the day -They pack their backpacks -Then they head outside at a specific time to catch the bus
-The girls get until dinner time to relax and play
-Showers (brush hair, brush teeth)
-Family game, reading, or other activity
-Bedtime (say prayers, hugs & kisses, goodnight)
3. Ease Transitioning:
Children transitioning between two homes have a challenge in front of them. Making a calendar with your children can help ease the stress of the transitions. The calendar should include times they will be with you and times they will be with the other parent. It can also include special events or activities, schedule changes, and materials they need for the transitions. Having this as a visual will not only help your children but it will help you and your partner as well. You can also have a check-list to help remind your children of the items (clothes, school supplies, stuffed animal, etc.) they need to bring to transition to their other home.
Structure and consistency create a safe, comfortable, and predictable environment for children. Your family can function like a well-oiled machine when these are present. Barbara Coloroso, internationally recognized speaker and author in the area of parenting, says, “Our children are counting on us to provide two things: consistency and structure. Children need parents who say what they mean, mean what they say, and do what they say they are going to do.”
Nicole DiLorenzo is an educator, mentor, wife, and stepmom of two girls. Her passion of teaching has spilled into the stepfamily dynamic, wanting to help others navigate their role. She runs a blog which helps her therapeutically deal with the many blessings and challenges within the stepfamily dynamic. She enjoys yoga, dog walks, riding motorcycles, vacations, and living a balanced life. Visit www.stepmomwarrior.wordpress.com for more information.