Achieving structure can be very difficult, and taxing as a parent/ caregiver. Adding structure to a child child’s life, often takes hundreds of times of redirection before the structure is truly accepted. The good news is- YOU CAN DO IT!!!! You do have enough love, patience, energy, and compassion to work through the difficult part!
“STRUCTURE allows us to invest in the things that are important to use but don’t exist inside of us yet.” – Dr. H. Cloud
Here are some helpful ways to help you begin to add structure into your children’s lives.
1. Start simple- pick 2-3 items areas that you’d like to work on versus trying to change everything at once.
2. Communicate change change to child – and reason for change. Example: ” If we get to bed earlier, our brain will be able to have more sound sleep. More sound sleep helps you grow strong and have more energy!”
3. Communicate change to partner- begin to dialogue about the goals you’d like to see as co-parents.
4. Communicate change to additional caregivers and or 2nd household: This can be very difficult and touchy. Remember to communicate using only “I” statements. Example: “I am noticing that Junior is more cranky after weekend visits. What time does he go to sleep?” Be open to hearing about the reason the other caregiver(s) have different routines. Be open to potentially flexing on an area at your home too! Remember- these changes are in the best interest of your child!
5. Reward positive behavior! This can be verbal or through incentive. Making it a team effort is the best way to gain everyone’s buy in!
6. For younger children consider using picture charts to help speak about the change. Websites such as: http://do2learn.com/picturecards/printcards/index.htm
7. Read a children’s story about routine and structure!
By helping add structure to your children’s lives you are helping them:
- Feel safer
- Understand unpredictable change
- Explore in a safer manner
- Fall asleep faster / cycle through more REM patterns