Tag Archives: behavior

Creating Structure in your Child’s Day

In the whirlwind of a child’s life, they encounter constant change. Yet, amidst this flux, a child flourishes when there’s predictability—even if they may not always welcome it with open arms. By crafting a structured environment, such as establishing a routine, an au pair can foster a child’s sense of safety and stability, crucial for curbing behavioral issues.

Why Structure is Key

Introducing structure into a child’s day involves establishing a consistent routine. This might entail maintaining regular wake-up times, meal schedules, nap routines, and snack breaks.

Children benefit from rules and routines in numerous ways: understanding boundaries, learning self-discipline, navigating frustration and patience, and appropriately engaging with their surroundings.

Moreover, routines foster independence. Once a child grasps the sequence of tasks—like brushing teeth, getting dressed, having breakfast, and packing their school bag—you are spared the constant reminders, enabling the child to take charge of their morning routine confidently. This newfound independence bolsters the child’s self-esteem as they become adept at self-care.

Additionally, structured days tend to minimize behavioral issues. When a child knows what to expect, they’re less anxious and can concentrate on managing their behavior instead of fretting over uncertainties.

Establishing a Routine

For families with minimal structure in their daily routines, introducing changes gradually is advisable. Start by focusing on a specific time frame, perhaps the period between dinner and bedtime.

Identify tasks essential during this time, such as packing lunches, completing homework, bathing, reading bedtime stories, and lights out. Organize these activities in a logical sequence that suits the family’s dynamics.

Consider creating a visual aid, like a poster with task lists and accompanying photos, to facilitate the transition. Over time, children will become familiar with the routine, reducing the need for constant reminders.

Reminding the child to follow their routine and referring them to a visual chart reinforces their autonomy and accountability.

When drafting a routine, ensure it includes moments of bonding and enjoyment, such as story time or sharing daily experiences. It’s essential not to overlook these opportunities for family connection in the pursuit of adhering strictly to the routine.

Establishing House Rules

Structured living also entails implementing household rules. These rules should be clear, specific, and age-appropriate, covering areas like the use of art supplies or screen time regulations. Discuss this idea of structure with your host parents and create a plan that all of the adults in the home can adhere to. Discussing the consequences for rule violations helps children understand the repercussions of their actions, fostering accountability.

Flexibility in Adhering to Rules and Routine

Some of the most cherished memories in a child’s life stem from moments when routine is momentarily set aside for spontaneous fun, like staying up late to stargaze or playing games on a school night.

Parents, and au pairs alike, should exercise flexibility. When deviating from the norm, explain the rationale behind the deviation to the child, emphasizing its uniqueness as a special event. And of course, don’t forget about adjusting the household routine as the child matures. Rules and routines suitable for a toddler will require modifications to accommodate a grade schooler’s evolving needs.

Ultimately, instilling a sense of structure alleviates power struggles, fosters family organization, and nurtures the child’s sense of security and independence—a worthwhile outcome for your concerted effort invested over time.

Positive Discipline – Rewarding Good Behavior

Years ago when my kids were younger, I had a cluster meeting at my house and a few au pairs commented on the chore and behavior charts I had posted in my family room. With four kids, I sometimes found it difficult to keep track of who had done what and who had gained or lost various privileges. So, over the years, I have used charts to keep everything on track.  I have also created charts for host families and au pairs dealing with behavior the children may be having.

I uploaded a few of these charts in case you may find them helpful.

Positive Behavior – Recognizing and rewarding positive behavior can often be a good way to reduce negative behavior. The goal behind lots of children’s actions is the same, attention seeking. Try to show them more positive attention when they do well and make less of a fuss over negative behaviors.

Explain how the chart will work and then look for times when you can call their attention to something they did that was kind or helpful. It is nice to have short term and longer term goals. For example, the thrill of putting a sticker on the chart can be exciting for toddlers and preschoolers and that along with your words of praise are instant gratification. Saying when you get 5 stickers you get a larger reward (trip to the park, extra story or video, special activity) is intended to make them want to keep up the positive behavior. Positive Behavior Chart

Tracking Privileges – For school aged children it can be helpful to tie how they are behaving to privileges they want to have. I used this chart with different colored push pins, so my children could see where they were on the ladder and I could remember who I had told they could do what. The ladder style chart is based on an idea of the Dilley Family (famous parents of sextuplets.) I figured if it worked for them with six kids, it might work for me- and it has for many years. You can make this chart your own by substituting the kinds of activities your kids enjoy.  Ladder Chart 

Chores – Having chores teaches children that they are an important part of the family and their efforts count. This teaches responsibility and promotes positive self-esteem.  Chore Chart with Basic Chores

These are just a starting point, you can make your own charts and even involve the children in the process.

#1 Tip – Be Consistent!

All adults in the house need to be on the same page. It takes time to change behavior. Don’t expect instant results.