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Routine makes all the difference to an anxious child

Ultimate Family Planner is so happy to have Liv Wilson from The Wilsons of Oz be our next guest feature Blog.

Liv is a British family & lifestyle writer based in Melbourne. You can follow her journey through her website The Wilsons of Oz and via her social media channels Instagram and Facebook.

ROUTINE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE TO AN ANXIOUS CHILD

Routine, routine, routine!!! It’s one of the first things you get ‘advised’ about when you become a parent. Feeding routines, sleeping routines, routines for when you leave the house and what time you should eat your own breakfast! Honestly, we had our first baby and were flying by the seat of our pants. We fed her when she screamed, we changed her when she needed it, and we went on all kinds of adventures when we wanted to, not when the books told us we should. And guess what… It worked. She survived and so did we…just! 

Fast forward a few years and that flexibility becomes a little tricker. School gets in the way of ‘going with the flow’ and routines need to be adhered to. We very quickly became experts in sticking to a family schedule, mostly because for the main part of the day we didn’t have much control over what we were doing. However, our morning and evening time was pretty much on schedule!  This organisation ended up being a godsend when our daughter was later diagnosed with severe anxiety and PTSD.

 

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Upping our game!

So, a big diagnosis meant a real shake up of our routine, especially our morning routine. Going to school became a big hurdle, and like many parents of children with separation anxiety, seemingly ‘normal,’ everyday tasks like school drop off were utterly exhausting. If ‘god forbid’ the morning didn’t go to plan or there was a bump in the routine, it would play havoc with an entire day, sometimes a whole week. 

Structure and routine are critical for kids with anxiety and it’s why we have a very visible planner, a calendar on the fridge and a family calendar that we can all share, add to and access on our devices. Having a plan in place so that every member of the household knows where they need to be and at what time is a lifesaver, and allowing your anxious child to see clearly what their day ahead looks like can be the difference between a calm morning or evening routine or one riddled with panic and tears.

What really is a routine? 

A routine is simply a regular way of doing things throughout the day and the week. Routines can help anyone suffering with anxiety complete their daily tasks a whole lot easier because it gives them the mental break and the freedom to concentrate on other parts of their day. Creating healthy routines for all children can assist them in developing resilience, building confidence, and preparing for a successful adult life. 

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Why does my anxious child need more routine? 

Spontaneity, disorganisation, spur of the moment changes to planned activities, mess, and unreliability are hard for anxious children to deal with. Imagine turning all that chaos into certainty, safety, calmness, and protection. Having a well-structured routine means safety and predictability for your child. They know where they stand and what’s coming, therefore their anxiety and nervousness are diminished! Creating a routine for your family will have incredible results for everyone, but astonishing results for your anxious child. Trust me! 

Family Time

Feeling alone is a real fear for some anxious children and making time for family activities not only teaches them the importance of relationships and building strong bonds, but also helps them overcome any feelings of loneliness. A well thought out routine with scheduled ‘family time’ will give you all quality time to bond, build trust in each other and set aside time to listen, uninterrupted, to concerns and worries. 

 

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Become the master of managing time

Routines create healthy habits and teach children to manage their time well. Too much time in the morning can create just as much stress as too little. Pack school bags the night before, lay out clothes, and be prepared!! Everything from making their packed lunch to setting aside the right amount of time for homework will ensure less stress and fewer arguments. Anxious children who are taught the skills of building routine, will understand what lies ahead, will manage their time well and complete their daily tasks with ease. 

It’s true! Routines build confidence

Confidence beams out of a child who is productive and successful. Routine will not only allow confidence to shine through, but it will also create a more independent child who will be proud to complete their tasks with fluency and peace of mind. 

How you can help your anxious child get ready for school.

How to prepare an anxious child for school
  • Prepare bags and lunches the night before to save rushing in the morning.
  • Have a good calendar so everyone knows what’s happening each day, and what to look forward to.
  • Be aware of your child’s mood. Set a limit on questions and don’t be afraid to say “no more questions now” – constant questioning can build stress levels.
  • Pop a note inside their lunchbox, a simple ‘I love you’ or ‘You got this!’ will create a smile and confirm that they are supported!
  • Ask your child’s teacher for a breakdown of the school day so that you can stick it on the fridge – Remember, knowing what lies ahead means you can talk about it and more crucially, prepare for it.
  • Keep yourself calm. Your child will be very aware of your mood and will feed off a good mood!!
  • Ask the school for help! Don’t ever feel embarrassed to reach out and ask for help. You may be surprised at what support they can offer you and your family.
  • If someone offers to help you and your child, that generally means they want to help. Embrace that, it’s worth it’s weight in gold!! 

No one ever said parenting was easy, however you can take the pressure off, regain control and live a serene existence with a few small changes. A great routine will help you all live a harmonious and more productive life, trust me, it’s the little changes that make the biggest difference.

Good luck. 



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