At a time when things are very uncertain we should consider how we might make things feel secure for the children/young people around us. Evidence shows that structure helps people feel safe, secure and comfortable. Knowing what to expect helps people to feel they are in control of their world and in turn happier in themselves (high self-esteem). This applies to adults as well as children!
Now might be a time to create what is familiar for a child, so if they had very structured time before the lockdown and responded well to that it could be worth creating structured time throughout the day. And even if structure and routine was not so important, it might be that adding a little more to our day during this difficult time may help us get through it. Evidence shows that creating structure for children can be a very effective way of managing what can be a challenging environment – it helps make expectations clear – think clear instructions – if we know what we are aiming for we are more likely to achieve it!
What do we mean by structure and routine? You might want to think about:
- Having a consistent time to get up and go to bed, eat our meals and relax.
- Breaking up our day so that we include fresh air and exercise where possible.
- Everyone participating in some activities like household chores or family time.
- Dividing up activities into book time, tv time, game time, cooking and so on.
The amount of structure we might want or find helpful varies. So consider what will work for each person. This is a chance to revisit temperament and to look again at development stages.
The next stage is how we implement the new structure. Sharing information about what is happening and discussing why change is necessary may help. Being clear about the change and what is expected will also help the process of change (clear instructions) and how we communicate that to all involved (family meeting).
There is an element of trial and reflection required when attempting new things (solution building). So ask yourself: does it work, are they happier in themselves? And this is a chance to find out what our children think about how things are going, so remember to ask them too. If there are elements of our routines that are not working, then revisit the structures we have created and change them! Remember everyone else is going through this too, so use your networks and share what has worked for you and ask others to tell you their solutions and ideas.