Creating Routines with Your Child

by Barbara Purdum
Alta Head Start Mental Health Consultant

“Children grow in their ability to handle separations when we let them know that it’s okay to feel sad and angry at first…and that little by little, they’ll feel better and find different things to enjoy…. It is only when children learn, day by day, that their parents come for them when they say they will, that they learn to trust that times of separation will be followed by times of being together again.”   – Fred Rogers

Having a routine with your child, or a ritual that you perform, can help ease the transition into school from home. Routines help to create a feeling of safety in children. For example, you can create a routine with the way in which you say hello and goodbye. You can link elbows, create a special handshake or special wave, do a pinky shake, give each other a high five or a fist bump.

Just be sure to do the same routine each time, or have two or three rituals to choose from. Then, your child can choose which way they want to greet you each day out of those two or three options.

Here is a list of some sample ways to say hello or goodbye to make it less scary and maybe even fun:

  • See you later, Alligator…after a while, Crocodile
  • Bye-bye, Butterfly
  • Be sweet, Parakeet
  • Give a hug, Ladybug (can be a hello greeting or goodbye)
  • See ya soon, Raccoon
  • Out the door, Dinosaur (can be used when picking child up from school)
  • Take care, Polar Bear
  • Blow a kiss, Goldfish (can be used for hello or goodbye)
  • Toodle-oo, Kangaroo
  • Parent: Ready, Set…Child: You Bet! (can be a hello routine when getting ready to leave with child)

If you pick your child up from school, use the car ride home to talk. Turn the radio off and give your child your attention. Find out how school went, what was good about it, what was your child’s favorite activity that day?

If you have any questions about this topic, or any other involving your child’s behavior, development or well being, please call me at 330-736-0071 or email me at [email protected]