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Published On: Wed, Jul 8th, 2020

5 Tips for Developing a Smart and Healthy Morning Routine for Kids

If you have young children, you know just how important structure is to their day. The more you can establish rhythms and routines, the more stable and predictable your weekly schedule will be. And if there’s one time of the day when routines are needed (yet often lacking), it’s the morning hours.

The Role of Routines in Childhood

Routines – or the act of carving out predictable channels in your daily life – are important for everyone, but they’re especially critical for young children. Building routines helps children feel safe by letting them know what to expect. They establish clear and consistent boundaries and expectations.

Additionally, routines increase confidence and independence, promote greater self-control, and reduce stress by eliminating “what if scenarios” and providing a reasonable expectation of what will happen on a daily basis.

But it’s not just about providing security and predictability. The right routines also play a role in shaping children into healthy, functioning adults.

“When your child routinely performs the same activities such as washing hands before meals, cleaning teeth, and taking a walk after dinner, it may seem like just an organized way to get things done on time,” KLA Schools mentions. “However, this repetition also creates habits around these healthy activities that your child can carry with them naturally into later life.”  

photo/ svklimkin

5 Tips for Smarter, Healthier Morning Routines

Routines can be implemented into a child’s life in numerous ways. There are school routines, sport routines, bedtime routines, etc. But if there’s one integral aspect that often gets forgotten about, it’s the all-important morning routine.

The right morning routine sets the table for a happy, healthy, and productive day. Here are a few tips you can use to optimize your family’s morning routine to enjoy the benefits mentioned above:

 

  • Wake Up at the Same Time Each Day

 

The human body has a circadian rhythm – which is basically an internal clock that’s regulated by a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. It’s driven by fluctuations in light and darkness and can be trained over time. If a child (or anyone) goes to sleep at the same time each evening and wakes up at the same time each morning, their circadian rhythm becomes affixed to a very specific schedule. This makes it easier to fall asleep, wake up, and stay focused throughout the day.

In other words, make sure your children are waking up at the same time each day – regardless of whether it’s a weekday or the weekend, the school year or the summer. (With young children, the goal is usually to get them to sleep a little later. As children get older, the challenge shifts to waking them up at a decent time.)

 

  • Follow a 1-2-3 To-Do List

 

Children need purpose when they wake up, otherwise they’ll fill their time with meaningless things like TV or video games. To provide this sense of purpose, create a 1-2-3 to-do list for each child. This list consists of three chores or tasks that must be completed sequentially upon waking up (and before eating).

An example of a 1-2-3 to-do list would be: (1) make bed, (2) feed the dog, (3) sweep the kitchen. These to-do lists will change over time – based on factors like age, seasonality, and skills – but it’s always important to have some sort of list for a child to perform first-thing in the morning. 

 

  • Eat a Healthy Breakfast Together

 

Once everyone has performed their chores, eat a healthy breakfast together as a family. This could be as simple as eating some fruit while everyone gathers around the kitchen island, or as intentional as setting the table, cooking breakfast, and sitting down for a family meal.

 

  • Brush Teeth

 

Children need to prioritize their oral health and hygiene. As this Mint Dental infographic shows, 42 percent of children aged 2 to 11 have tooth decay. Symptoms include sensitive teeth, cavities, bad breath, plaque, periodontitis, and gingivitis. Don’t let your children wait until bedtime to brush their teeth. Integrate teeth brushing into the morning routine immediately after breakfast.

 

  • Require Quiet Time

 

Every child needs a little bit of quiet time in the morning. How this time is used will look different for each child, but they should be encouraged to spend at least 10 minutes in their room alone before moving on with the rest of the day. This provides time to read, journal, pray, or process thoughts.

Putting it All Together

A good morning routine is only one element in a much larger equation. However, it quite literally starts the day off on the right foot by providing a sense of safety, predictability, and purpose from the moment you rise until the rest of the day begins. Hopefully, you’re able to grab some helpful truths from this article and apply them in your own life for the betterment of your children today, tomorrow, and forever.

Author: Anne Johansson

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