Parents need to understand why establishing consistency is important in their child’s life.
It is very important to establish consistency with children. From a very young age, children respond to consistency. As infants, they are able to indicate their response to consistency and parents recognize the signs.
Some of the signs parents recognize are: when an infant does not accept a bottle because they are accustomed to being breast fed; or when an infant fusses because you’re not holding them the way they are accustomed to being held.
For infants, establish consistency is important because it brings comfort and security. Babies need to feel safe and secure and when they do not, they will let you know by crying! Creating consistency is the same as providing a predictable environment. Infants. toddlers, and preschoolers benefit from a predictable environment where routines are established. An environment that is predictable increases cooperation, but an environment that is not predictable increases frustration.
At home, for example, if your bathtime routine is always after the last meal in the evening then followed by a story before bedtime, chances are that your child will cooperate once the routine has been established. As a result, bedtime will eventually run smoothly.
On the other hand, when you are not following a routine, and there is no set daily schedule, chances are that mealtime, bathtime, and/or bedtime will not be easy and your child’s behavioral responses will not be predictable from day to day. Your child might respond well sometimes, but at other times your child will become frustrated and it will show through her behavioral responses.
The question to ask yourself is “Do I want my child to look forward to a routine?” or “Do I want to dread going through day-to-day activities because of how my child responds to them?”
The choice is yours to make as a parent. For the same reasons mentioned above, consistency is just as important in the childcare environment.
Establishing Consistency at The Vine Preschool
Preschools don’t follow a routine just for the fun of it. Preschoolers rely heavily on routines that are consistent. If they are accustomed to going outside after breakfast, for example, eventually you may get a couple of children who automatically go to their jacket or hat once breakfast is over. An automatic response like that shows cooperation. Parents ask me how do we get the kids to do things they’ve not seen at home? The answer is that we establish consistency day-in and day-out at The Vine Preschool.
If childcare providers wait until the last minute to tell preschoolers that it is clean up time, the behavioral response will be frustration from the preschoolers. A preschool environment that is predictable, however, would provide preschoolers with a reminder that it will soon be clean up time which increases cooperation rather than frustration.
A childcare environment with an established routine that is consistent and predictable is one where your child will thrive because she feels safe. Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who feel safe learn more effectively when their childcare environment is predictable as a result of consistency.
So if your goal is to get more cooperation and less frustration from your toddler, embrace consistency-you’ll be glad you did!