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

Last week, I happened to engage in a conversation with one of my older students, who are now in high school, about why she still needs to maintain and follow the rules set by their parents at this age.  My student does not like following the rules, ‘simple, she wants to live her life free from such boundaries’. However, 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 the difference between rules and law.

The difference between Rules, Regulations and Law

Let’s try to understand these concepts from an example of a family because laws, rules and regulations may have different understandings in other situations or organisations. Imran and Shazia are married and have two children, 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 by yelling. 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 7.30 pm, you will not be getting any dinner. The children are now cautious and make efforts to reach home in time. If sometimes they arrive late, they will still have dinner as the purpose of this rule is to maintain respect for time. These are 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 personalities to 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 rest, do their homework for an hour and a half and then go to play. This is called rules, a set of rubrics designed for a particular people or group for its proper functioning and may vary from one entity to another.

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

Children’s freedom of life vs Parents Rules and Regulations

Throughout my teaching career, I have observed that sometimes children misunderstood the concept of rules and regulations and mistakenly take it as law. 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 attitudes towards family and home.  Both cases are extreme, but it can be resolved if both entities (parents and children) develop an understanding of 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 know, 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 a 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, it means you are letting them down 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 routines and rules are good for you guys. You know what to expect when you go home after school because even your expectations are bound to specific rules and routines, which gives you a sense of discipline. Being disciplined will help you organise and be peaceful in your later lives.

Remember, when exams come, you start feeling annoyed and anxious about sorting out your preparations, etc. Guess what? Following routines will help you eradicate such anxiety, and you will feel relaxed because making and the following timetable would be part of your habit. Do not consider method or home rules as capital punishment. Nobody wants to jeopardise your privacy or freedom; it’s just that 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 is fine, but you also need to ensure that your children abide by those rules out of love or fear. Fear is one of the hindrances of a 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 build a healthy and trustful relationship with your child instead of bombarding them with rigid laws.

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

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