Many children feel uncertain and unstable when they don’t know what to expect out of their day. Creating a daily schedule or visual calendar can make a huge impact in helping your child feel in control.
When my son Vman was a toddler, he would ask at night as well as in the morning exactly what was going to happen that day. A visual calendar can help a young child feel more comfortable about the unknowns of the day.
As soon as Vman started reading, I would mark his daily calendar, which helped him understand how many days until an event or if his friend was coming over to play that day. It significantly helped cut down on the meltdowns and worries he had.
Today I’m welcoming Erin from Putting Socks on Chickens to talk about how having a set schedule for her son has turned around his behavior and anxiety for my series Voices of Special Needs. And can I just say — don’t you love Erin’s blog name? Some days, parenting does feel like you’re just trying to put socks on chickens!
3 Reasons Why Your Child Needs a Daily Schedule
A few weeks ago we went through more than 2 weeks of constant meltdowns. Why? My son’s schedule changed. The point is…this forced me to make a schedule for my son for the first time.
When I say make a schedule, I don’t mean a routine. I mean put it in writing, make it visible to your child. We have been following basically the same routine for months now. And because of this I guess that is why I never actually thought it was important to make a schedule, to put it in writing and to make it visible for my son. But let me say that after deciding to do this, I have seen a remarkable difference in more than one way.
3 Things My Son Loves About Having a Schedule
He knows what to expect each day.
This has helped with the meltdowns that are triggered by an unexpected change in his daily routine. Granted, change is inevitable. But as we wrote down what he could expect for the month, I promised that as I became aware of any changes, we would write it down on the calendar and talk about it. I’m not just going to spring it on him at the last minute (BAD IDEA)!
He no longer asks about friends coming over or going over to his friends house EVERY DAY!
No kidding…each day when I picked him up from school he would ask me if a friend could come over and play or if he could go to a friend’s house to play. I explained to him every time why we weren’t doing “play dates” on school days…homework, Tae Kwon Do, baseball practice, dinner, bed, etc…there just isn’t enough time to do what weneed to do during the week. This would sometimes result in a meltdown (yep I’ve been hit upside the head while driving off from school because of my resounding NO) or on a good day just an hour long conversation with him telling me to say yes.
Since we made the schedule, I included days that he could possibly have friends over and days that he could not. And you know what, I have actually heard him tell his friends “You can’t come over today. I have too much to do. On Friday, you can probably come over.”
He loves it and the independence of it!
He loves having a schedule in writing. It gives him a sense of control. He can look at his calendar and know what he has that day instead of always asking me. It gives him a sense of independence and stability. Although our routine is nothing different than from what we did last month, he can now look at his calendar in the morning and he knows what he has that day instead of him worrying about it.
If you have not created a schedule in writing for your child, I would highly recommend it. I have only done a written schedule for 1 month and have seen wonderful differences. So even if you relatively follow the same routine, any child can seriously benefit from seeing it in writing (or pictures if your child does not read yet). I am seriously wondering “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” and know that planning out the upcoming month on “his” calendar will become part of our regular routine.
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A version of this post originally appeared on Putting Socks on Chickens. You can read more from Erin there.