Tips to Get Back on a School Routine

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AREFA CASSOBHOY, MD, MPH: All families need to relax the rules sometimes and maybe let regular routines slide. But getting back into a routine is important for your child's well-being.

Kids actually thrive when they have a regular routine. It helps them predict what's going to happen in a world where they don't have a lot of say. And it also helps them organize their time so they know what activity is appropriate for certain periods of the day.

So how do you get your child on a routine? First, decide what's important. Getting ready for school, bathtime, and dinner are all critical parts of your child's day. Set aside a realistic amount of time for those tasks. Then make room for downtime like play, reading, or relaxing.

Most kids will do better if you alert them to a change in activity ahead of time. Give them a heads up when playtime is over or bedtime is coming up. You can set timers that the kids can watch and hear.

Most important, be consistent. If your routine regularly falls apart, it creates chaos. And lax routines can even cause anxiety in children. So even if they beg to stay up a little longer, stick with the program. Sure, it's OK to be flexible sometimes. But what you want is for your routines to eventually become old habit. For WebMD, Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy.