Create a Daily Routine for Success for Your Family

The word “routine” often gets a bad reputation. It’s common to think of a routine as sterile, dull, or somehow lacking spontaneity. However, deep down we know that establishing and utilizing a daily routine for success has the potential to make life a lot easier, thus leading to a more productive and positive day. Many parents struggle with developing a routine that will work well for their families’ demanding schedule, as well as each family member’s individual needs. Our days are bombarded by a list of to-dos. Work. School. Zooming kids to extracurricular activities…the list goes on and on. It can become overwhelming. Sometimes it may feel easier to “just go with the flow”; particularly, when there are children throwing tantrums, adolescents giving attitudes, or just the daily demand to stretch yourself thin. Developing and sticking to a daily routine can lead to success, and I have five tips that can help you get your family on the fast track to success.

Fueling Up to Start the Day

Our cars need fuel to get us where we need to be; why wouldn’t our bodies? This tip may seem elementary, but many families do not start the day off with breakfast (let alone a healthy meal). Making time to eat breakfast can increase brain function and positively impact mood and energy.  This translates to less stress and more focus.

Make a Family Calendar (Organization and Executive Functioning Skills)

To avoid hiccups and unnecessary stress, creating a family calendar that can be viewed by the whole family can keep everyone on the same page. This calendar can include expected activities, such as: extracurricular activities, meetings, holidays, family plans, homework, etc. See more on school success here. The major benefit of having a family calendar is that it reduces stress for everyone by eliminating confusion. Including your children in the process of creating the calendar can also be a fun family activity!

Create a Space to Communicate as a Family

Busy schedules can impede on family time and negatively impact healthy communication. Having regular family check-ins built into your routine for daily success can be helpful with increasing communication and keep parents informed about their kids’ lives. This may look like talking about positives from the day while around the dinner table, before bed, or while in route to a scheduled activity.

Intentional Mindful Breaks

Scheduling a time for a personal check-in should be a part of your regular routine. Mindfulness has become very popular, and for good reason! It is a time for us to take an intentional pause and take stock of our thoughts and feelings, without judgment. I suggest scheduling several ‘breaks’ in the middle of your day. This check-in will prove helpful in building self-awareness and allow you (the parent) to address any thoughts or feelings that may impact how you interact with your family.

Establish Bedtime Routines

This tip honestly should be number one. How often do we burn the midnight oil getting trying to get things done? I know I have! Life can be demanding and it seems the 24-hours that we are given to complete our daily tasks is just not enough; however, stealing time from rest is not usually helpful. Just as we need fuel (food) to keep going, we need rest. This is important to everyone in the family. Kids of course need rest to grow and avoid those troublesome cranky tantrums. Adults need the same thing. Having an established routine before bedtime, including a scheduled time for bed, can help recharge us, decompress us from the stressors of the day, and directly impacts our mood and productivity for the following day. Setting appropriate bedtimes for each family member (e.g. 7:00 PM for elementary school-aged children) will lead to less fuss in the morning.

 

Here’s something really important to remember: what works for someone else, might not work for you. Our child and family therapists can work with you to identify what your family may need to include in your daily routine for success. The key is to create regular and consistent daily routine that will help your family achieve success

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5 Ways to Help Your ADHD Child Tackle Boredom

Has your child ever come up to you complaining about being bored? Boredom is a common theme for children, yet ADHD boredom can happen more frequently due to hyperactivity and inability to maintain focus. ADHD boredom is not a symptom of ADHD. The ADHD brain fires off faster than another child’s brain making it easier to fall into inattention and distractibility. This is when ADHD boredom can set in. Impulsively acting-out and using attention-seeking behaviors is your child with ADHD way of expressing their boredom. When these behaviors take over it does not mean your child is bad; they just need help tackling the boredom.

Here are five ways you can help your child with ADHD tackle boredom.

Provide structure by scheduling after school and weekend activities

A child with ADHD thrives on structure and being busy with things to do. Scheduling afterschool and weekend activities can help them tackle their go-to of being bored.

Encourage your child to be proactive

A lot of time your child with ADHD gets bored and cannot think of all the things they can or like to do. It is never a bad idea to plan in advance with your child. Make a list together of what steps they can make at home and school of things they can do when they get bored. Having a visual list of free time activities for the home will help your child feel independent and proactive in times when their brain tells them they are bored.

Don’t drop everything to rescue them from boredom

Being a parent is stressful enough, try not to take on your child’s boredom. Giving your child choices can help them feel empowered and focus their attention to overcome their boredom. If you are doing something, the child can assist in doing ask them to help or direct them an activity you know is one their activity list to do until you are free to give your child your full attention. Remember it may take your child some time to come up with something or pick from the choices you offer them so try your best to not jump in with ideas of what they can do but instead choices for them to process and figure it out on their own.

Set Strict guidelines for Screen Time

Setting healthy limits with children around screen time is difficult and more so with a child with ADHD. It is essential screen time is not the go to choice to give your child with ADHD when they are expressing boredom. Be proactive and help your child make good decisions about technology.

Allow your child to be a part of the planning process

Find one day a week or a scheduled time every day to sit down with your child. During this time map out plans for the week or day, create to-do lists to help them know what has to get done in a day, and have a family calendar as a visual reminder to help with promoting about activities coming up.

 

Remember children with ADHD thrive off of excitement and stimulation. It is difficult for them to fill their free time because they struggle with executive functioning skills. Help support your child find ways to stay busy and locate things to do when they are experiencing ADHD boredom.

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Video Game Obsession – 3 Quick Ways to Set Healthy Limits

Remember the days when video games were a privilege and something that wasn’t as mainstreamed as a social outing? As kids, we would play outside, ride our bikes, and go to the park with friends. It seems that in today’s society, video game obsession is taking over and causing frustration for both parents and children. Children are constantly asking to play Fortnite or Call of Duty online with friends and spending money buying gear for their characters. Parents are asking their children to go play outside or do something more active. If this sounds like something you have experienced, you may struggle on knowing the appropriate ways to balance and set limits on your child’s video games.

I have often heard the frustration from parents that their children are spending too much time on video games and not enough time helping out around the house. Understanding how to balance fun and recreation with being responsible in the home is an important part of independent growth. Today, I want to provide you with 3 tips to set healthy limits that can help you manage video game obsession.

Time Limit and Routine

It’s important to sit down with your children and come up with a video game time limit. For example, during the school week (Monday-Thursday) they are allowed to play for 30 minutes after school from 3:30pm-4:00pm.  During the weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), they can play for 1-2 hours (depending on their age) in the morning, afternoon, or before dinner. These rules need to be specific and clear. Remember to tell your children about the rules when there are no distractions happening and they are fully listening. Let’s say you want to have extra video game time as a reward. That’s okay to do, but establish this with the video game rules. For example, if they get this reward it’s an extra 30 minutes. Children may ask for extended time in their games or try to guilt you into playing more times a day than you have established. Remember to hold your boundary and to not give into this request.

Size of the Problem

When children have strong reactions to turning off the video games and transitioning to the next event, remind them the size of the problem. Some children tend to have huge reactions towards this moment and as parents it can be difficult to reason with them. We want to help our children self-regulate independently. Challenging their thinking by asking if this is a small, medium, or huge problem can be effective. This can always put things in a better perspective for them in order to realize that their reaction is not matching the size of the problem. If your child struggles significantly with transitions, transition objects can be a positive replacement to use in these moments.

 Social Understanding

Video games have universally become a way for people to socialize with their friends when they are not with them. This can establish healthy social communication patterns between friends and assist with building rapport with peers. It is important to monitor who your children are playing with and making

sure their online friends are children you know. Safety first! Also, it is important to be mindful that your children may be playing online with their friends. Provide your children with the line, “Let your friends know this is the last game.” This will reduce strong reactions and maintain frustration tolerance as well as not damaging their “social” interactions. Remember what we discussed in the first tip! Talk with your children and establish these rules before using them to help you manage their video game obsession.

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Helping or Hurting: Tips for Teaching Children Responsibility

School is now in full swing! Congratulations, you and your family have successfully survived the back-to-school madness. The teachers have all been met, the physicals complete, school supplies purchased, and the homework is pouring in.

When a parent receives the frantic text from their teen, the note from the teacher, or the tearful story from their first grader, stating an assignment was forgotten, not turned in, forever lost… how should they react?

Children, adolescents and teens are not adults, but one day they will be. Here are some practical tips for teaching children responsibility while young, thus setting them up for success as they enter new life stages, and eventually reach adulthood.

Set Your Children Up for Success: 3 Tips for the School Year and All Year

Everyone needs help getting organized; help your child get and stay organized when it comes to all things academic.

  1. Designate a place for your child to keep their backpack (think cubby, wall hook etc.)
  2. Have a designated folder for homework/papers that are to be turned in to school
  3. Have your child prep their bag each night- try a daily check list to promote independence

 

Let Them Fail, Let Them Grow:  3 Lessons Learned Through Failure

Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. But when parents habitually bail their children out, their children are denied the chance to learn from their mistakes. Here are a few examples:

  1. Failing to check their backpack and forgetting an item teaches children self-responsibility, but Mom/Dad checking, double checking and packing all items does not.
  2. Failing to turn in assignments on time teaches adolescents the importance of deadlines, but Mom/Dad rushing the homework to school every time it is forgotten does not.
  3. Failing a test teaches teens the importance of studying/time management, but Mom/Dad making excuses about their busy schedule to school board does not.

 

Teach, Don’t Shame: 3 Tips for Dealing with Mistakes

 It is easy to become frustrated when children forget to complete an assignment, lose the permission slip, or fail to inform adults they need help with homework. Try these tips for teaching children responsibility by dealing with the mistakes in a helpful and teaching manner, not a shameful one.

  1. Let natural consequences happen. Lost credit, missed points, lower grades – these are all natural consequences.
  2. Don’t expect perfection; stop berating. Natural consequences have lasting effects, berating only isolates the child/teen from seeking help in future.
  3. Empathize, but also offer solutions. Let your children know that failure happens; offer helpful solutions. Remind children that you are on their side and support them, but you cannot do the work/rescue them every time

 

Children, adolescents, teens and parents make mistakes; mistakes and failings teach us life lessons. Setting children up for success prevents a good portion of failings, it also teaches them to take responsibility for their own work. When children do fail, remember to offer both support, and solutions.

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Secrets to Middle School Success

Middle School Success:

If you could go back to middle school, would you? Most adults wouldn’t! Think about it: challenging peer groups, different teachers and classmates at least 8 times a day, figuring out what each teacher expects from you and how to act around various peers of varying degrees of social status? No wonder middle schoolers sleep until noon on the weekends. It’s exhausting!

Despite all of the overwhelming factors, middle school can also be an exciting time. Not only do middle schoolers learn new independent skills, but they are also given more responsibility. Teachers’ expectations are higher, peer situations are evolving, and school work is escalating. We want to ensure that our kids are prepared to head into middle school with confidence and realistic expectations for the upcoming school year. Here are a few tips to help your child make the transition to middle school a positive and successful experience.

Organization and Executive Functioning Skills

  • Buy an assignment notebook and write down the assignments before leaving  each class (Don’t wait until the end of the day)
  • Use colorful binders that coordinate with notebooks (One for each subject)
  • Find a place in your home for homework each night (Keep things in the same place)
  • Prioritize homework assignments for that night (Don’t skip instructions)
  • Time Management (Make sure you have enough time to do your homework before and after school activities, relaxation time, dinner, and bedtime)
  • Put papers away after finishing them (where they are supposed to go)
  • After completing assignments, put folders and notebooks back in backpack right away (Don’t wait ’til later)

Asking for Help (Self-advocating)

  • Talk with your teacher if you don’t understand something (Teachers are more willing to help you with homework when you ask them questions instead of skipping the assignment)
  • Use I-statements when asking questions (e.g. I feel confused because I don’t understand the homework instead of- You didn’t explain it).
  • If you are worried about asking a teacher in person, write a note or email your question or concern to your teacher

Peer Interactions (How to Make and Keep Friends)

  • Keep inviting peers to engage in activities (not excluding others)
  • Showing positivity towards others
  • Respecting everyone’s personal space and understanding boundaries
  • Listening to what that person is saying without being distracted
  • Stop and think before acting or saying something
  • Show empathy towards peers
  • Don’t post information on social media that is disrespectful to peers
  • Don’t gossip, start drama, or bully kids

 

Remember, middle school doesn’t have to be as scary as it may seem. Use these preventive strategies to start your journey on a positive note!

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