Discipline in life is very essential to achieve success and happiness as is the romance and thrill of an adventure. Discipline need not mean a boring routine life, but a healthy life with balanced dose of work and fun. It is easier to manage life, when we have a routine. The discipline of following a routine should begin right from birth of the child. If started early, the routine becomes a matter of habit by a certain age. Otherwise it becomes difficult when the child grows up and resents any change.
Infants & Toddlers
When a child is born, it takes some time to adjust to the new environment it has come into. Hunger and sleep timings are governed by their own body needs. Parents cannot and should not keep a new born hungry or awake just for the sake of time schedule, but gradually it has to be introduced. For example, infants mostly fall asleep after their feed or a warm bath. So the bath and the feed can be fixed in such a way that it becomes the normal nap time for the child. Try to make the baby sleep daily at a fixed time. To decide a schedule for the baby, parents need to observe the duration of the interval between the child’s need for food and sleep. The schedule should be planned according to the baby’s need along with the work and rest of the parents. The baby’s body clock gradually adapts to the timing and things start falling in place.
As the infant grows into a toddler, his/her physical activities increase and sleep time decreases. But, by this time the child already develops the routine of sleeping at a fixed time, in the afternoon and at night. When a child is above 1 and half years age, the time of getting up also has to be fixed. It is difficult to wake up children and get them out of bed. There are always happy gentle ways to inculcate good habits. Give a warm happy smile as soon as the baby opens her eyes, hug her and play with her for some time in the bed itself, till she is fully awake. Same goes with the meal time. Fix a time for all the meals and snacks. Three activities namely meals, naps and toilet habits, should begin at least one to two years before the child begins formal school.
School Going Children
If the sleep timings have been set from the beginning, morning will not be terror for families of school going kids. Because by then the brain knows that it has to awake at a certain time. Make the child go to bed early, so he can wake up early. Set the wake up time early enough to allow the child to have breakfast and bath comfortably before leaving for school, well in time.
World over nutritionists emphasize on the importance of breakfast. But unfortunately, most school kids do not take a healthy breakfast in their rush for school. Even on days when they have ample time in hand, they prefer skipping breakfast. This is because the body needs to get accustomed to having food in the morning too. Therefore, it is important to develop the habit of having a healthy breakfast before the child begins school. Kids are usually slow eaters, and more in the morning. For this very reason they should be woken up early, to have sufficient time to eat comfortably. Make up the sleep time, by afternoon nap and going to bed early.
As the child grows, her play and study time too have to be fixed. Stick to the play and study times strictly. One really has to be strict because kids really never want to leave their play and study. If the play, study, Internet and TV times are fixed from an early age, this becomes a habit by the time the child is 7-8 years old. By 10 years, he will stop grumbling and finish his studies on time. He may even learn to manage his time and studies in a way that he saves times for more recreational activities of his choice.
Another habit that needs to be developed is the habit of studying daily and regularly. Help the child to learn topics as soon as they are done in school, irrespective of the exam dates. This way the child can beat exam stress and also need not miss out on his regular play schedule and other functions.
To counter the monotony of routine life, plan regular outings and family recreational activities on week ends, instead of spending the day watching TV. If exposed to adventurous activities or outings amidst nature from an early age, kids are sure to prefer these outdoor activities in place of TV.
Be the Role Model
Children love doing everything with their parents. They copy elders and know what is good and what is bad from their parents. If they see their parents eating a full breakfast in the morning before leaving for work, they easily develop this habit. Similarly they will readily go to sleep on time if parents to retire go to bed at the same time. If we ask them to go to bed by 8 PM while we party till midnight, it obviously gives out wrong signal. We are family, and we need to do things together, to stick together as happy family!