Why Structure and Routine is Important for Children’s Mental and Social Development

Why Structure and Routine is Important for Children’s Mental and Social Development
By Ahmad Amirali

Last week, I happened to engage in a conversation with one of my older students, who is now in high school, about why she still needs to maintain and follow the rules set by their parents at this age.  According to my student, she does not like follow the rules, ‘simple she wants to live her life free from such boundaries’. Although the conversation ended on a peaceful note about the importance of time table and schedule. However, the question just popped in my mind that ‘what makes my student think that routine and structure are hindrances to her freedom?

Before answering that question, let’s explore what the difference between rules and law is.

The difference between Rules, Regulations and Law

Let’s try to understand these concepts from an example of a family because laws, rules and regulation may have different understandings in other situations or organisations. Imran and Shazia are married and have two children say Shams and Zohra.

Shams and Zohra (S&Z) love to play games and outdoor sports with their colony friends and do not return home unless Shazia calls them either by yelling or whatever. So Imran instructs S&Z that you may play in the evening but return home by 7:30 PM. If you both do not return by 7.30pm, you both will not be getting any dinner. The children are now cautious and make efforts to reach home in time. If sometimes they arrived late, they still going to have dinner as the purpose of this rule is to maintain respect for time. This is called regulations, the norms to remove the imperfections for a particular event, activity, process or thing.

Now Shams and Shazia want to develop their children personality so they can compete well in all aspects of their life socially, mentally and physically. Therefore, they set up a timetable for their children’s whole day activity. According to the schedule, children will wake up at 6:00 am, go to school at 7:30 am, return home at 3:00 pm. They will take some rest, do their homework for an hour and a half and then go to play. This is called rules, a set of rubrics design for a particular people or groups of people for its proper functioning and may vary from one entity to another.

There are certain things which S&Z have been told right from their young age. For example, in case of an emergency, they have to call designated numbers like their parents. This is called laws, rules which cannot be ignored and should be adhered by any means.

Children’s Freedom of life vs Parents Rules and Regulations

Throughout my teaching career, I observe, sometimes children misunderstood the concept of rules and regulations and mistakenly take it as law. Resulting from which they start feeling that the cruel authorities – their parents sack their freedom. However, sometimes parents start imposing rules and regulations as laws on their children, making children uncomfortable and engaging them in rebellious attitude towards family and home.  Both cases are of extreme, but it can be resolved if both entities (parents and children) develop an understanding behaviour towards each other.

Following are some pointers for both children and parents to develop the importance of structure in their lives.

Children: Why Structure is Necessary for Your Successful Life

Guys, as you are aware, games of any kind are all about rules, and you know how it feels when someone calls you a cheater or something about unfair.  The goal of many games is to win, and everyone expects to have their fair chance at it.  If they lose, but everyone is following the rules, they can take the loss better and muster up the courage to try again.  But if they lose and they know someone was changing the rules on them, they know it’s unfair. Nobody wants to be around someone who cheats and gets around authority.

So, guys consider your parents are the maker of your life game, and if you don’t abide by the rules, they set for you, means you are letting down them and eventually experience loss in your life game.  But ‘sir, why should I follow the rules? I need my privacy and freedom’. I believe following routine and rules are good for you guys. You know what to expect when you go home after school because even your expectations are also bound to specific rules and routine which gives you a sense of discipline. Being disciplined in life will help you organise and peaceful in your later lives.

Remember, when exams come, you start feeling annoyed and become anxious about how you will be going to sort out your preparations etc. guess what? Following routines will help you to eradicate such anxiety, and you will feel relaxed because making and the following timetable would be the part of your habit. Do not consider method or home rules as capital punishment. Nobody wants to jeopardise your privacy or your freedom; it’s just your parents want you to become a successful citizen and a good human.

Parents: What You Need to Understand About the Structure in Your Children’s Life

First of all, parents, you need to understand that your kids are very well aware of who is in charge at home. Setting up rules and regulations are fine, but you also need to make sure whether your children are abiding those rules out of love or fear. Fear is one of the hindrances of child mental and social development. It is essential to know the difference between laws and rules. Early to bed, early to rise may be a routine/rule but if sometimes children do not make it on time there should be some flexibility instead of punishment for their behaviour. Remember, by force children may develop a sense of discipline in their life but might fail in many other components like creativity or social development. You are always the first line of contact and trust to your children; it is necessary to,  first, build a healthy and trustful relation with your child instead bombard them with rigid laws.


So, students have you ever complain about your freedom is being sacked by your parents? Or Parents, have you ever found it difficult maintaining a routine for your child? Share your stories in a comment below.

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