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Creating a strong family support system is critical to a child's sense of well-being. Routine family activities such as dinnertime together and family game night are ways parents can enhance their family's functioning and promote good mental health in their children. Routines are predictable, relieving children of anxiety, helping them to feel secure and confident. When children (and adults) know what to expect, it's easier to be relaxed, calm and agreeable.

Here are some ways you can help maintain routines for your family:

Tips for setting up routines

  • Involve your child in the process. Children are much more likely to be cooperative if they participate in outlining the routine or schedule.
  • A visual chart can be a great tool, with photos or drawings identifying the order of steps. Because the chart or order established was created together, you can refer to it if the routine needs to be reinforced. You are referring to a mutual agreement when you verbally remind them of the order or simply point to the hanging chart  not a parental dictate.
  • Keep the steps simple, don't have too many and always make them age appropriate.

Tips for maintaining routines

  • Tweak a routine until it is working just right for your family.
  • Give helpful warnings. First an advance warning, "In 5 minutes it will be time to pick up toys and start getting ready for bed." Then some children need this middle warning, "In 2 minutes we'll will be time to put away your legos." And finally, "Okay, time to pick up toys! Would you like some help?"
  • Stick to the routines and scheduled timelines. If your children are taking too much time picking out clothes for the next day, remind them that bedtime is at 8:00 and you may only have time for one story if they don't make their clothing decisions soon.
  • Having said 'stick to your routines', be flexible when situations do effect your routines. It is okay to miss a nap or go to bed later than usual. Special guests, birthday parties or outings are going to come up. Enjoy these times, knowing that your 'predictable' routines are established and life will easily return to normal.

You can learn more about the importance of a family support system on

Parents know when something is troubling their child. The warning signs are often clear: problems at school, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, withdrawal from friends and family. To be sure, changes in a child's behavior are normal and a natural part of growing up. When the changes persist, however -- or seem to worsen -- it may be time to seek help. If you suspect your child is struggling with a mental health issue, don't wait. Turn to DePelchin Children's Center for help.

DePelchin believes that a child's mental health is just as important as his or her physical health. Through our expert team of psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors, we provide comprehensive care for a broad range of concerns, including ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and trauma. Learn more about Depelchin's mental health services.

November '12: Stress in kids
October '12: Effects of grief
September '12: Diagnosing and treating ADHD
August '12: Getting ready for school
July '12: The effects of divorce
June '12: Structure Outside of School
May '12: Mental Health Awareness Month
April '12: Autism Spectrum Disorders

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