When we talk about an emotionally safe environment for our children, it is important to highlight two key aspects to achieve this: routines and limits. Both go hand in hand and both in the context of the family and at school. They help children and young people to learn to be organized, become increasingly independent of adults, feel secure with what is going to happen, develop life skills, and help them self-regulate their emotions.
Daily routines for both children and adults are essential for us to be able to function in an organized way, with less wasted effort and energy. Knowing what is going to happen in our day to day and what is expected of us, makes it easier for us to do things automatically and respond effectively to the demand of the environment. If we think, for example,about morning routines, we already automatically have certain actions we perform from the moment we wake up, without having to plan and execute each one. If we had to think of a new routine every day, it would be very exhausting and inefficient. It's the same with our little ones.
Daily routines provide a framework for the events of the day, and divides it into recognizable moments for children so they can know what we expect from them. Being consistent in these routines helps them prepare and learn the different skills they must develop to fulfill the tasks that may arise throughout life.
Guidelines for having a consistent routine:
- Establish a schedule and be consistent with it.
- When routine changes occur, explain them in a way that your children understand. Use symbols, drawings, announcements, or whatever you deem necessary, especially if your child is young.
- During the daily routine, provide materials, such as a story while waiting in a doctor's waiting room, so that the experiences are active and challenging for them.
- As much as possible, allow your children to make some decisions about routines and accompany them in the process.
- Handle calmly, but firmly, the difficult situations your children put you through, recognizing and paraphrasing the messages they give. This helps them to calm down faster.
For parents and teachers, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it is the responsibility of adults to organize clear and planned routines, according to the level of development of children, which will allow them to plan their daily lives and predict what will happen. This creates a sense of tranquility and control over what is going to happen. Also through routines we learn to plan and evaluate our response times and skills, important aspects of our overall performance. In addition, we practice and exercise our patience, speed, dedication and effort, while working on our levels of attention.
Another fundamental aspect is the limits that are understood as policies or guidelines established for the safety and well-being of the child and of other family members. A limit is one of the most important acts of love and care that we have with our children. Through boundaries we teach the proper way to behave, we teach our values, we teach the proper way to care for ourselves, and we allow our children and young people to be calm, because they know what we expect of them and they can take responsibility for their actions.
Some ideas for setting limits:
- State the limits clearly and positively, giving simple explanations. Don't set too many limits.
- As much as possible, involve children in setting limits and family norms.
- Demonstrate, through your own actions, the behaviors you expect of your children.
- Be consistent with the rules and consequences for behavior.
- Rather than punishing poor behavior, allow children and young people to experience the natural and logical consequences of their actions. This builds learning about their behavior, rather than fear of being reprimanded.
- Invite your children to make collaborative agreements with the rules and regulations in your family for the value they have and not simply obeying just to obey.
- Teach the importance of these norms and limits of coexistence for your family and the values behind them.
- Keep in mind that the limits change according to the stages of development. You should not have the same rules and limits for a five-year-old child as for a teenager.
As parents and teachers we have to know that the value of education is in the commitment to participate in the formation of independent people who are responsible for their own destiny, and requires all our dedication and love to provide safe learning spaces.
♠ Author: Carolina Henríquez G. - Bureche School Principal