Mandy Stopard

Child behaviour specialist

Child Behaviour Blog

Smoother Routines


Children’s behaviour often causes concern when there is a need to get out of the house, get ready for bed or complete any series of tasks.

This sometimes stems from not having the need for attention fulfilled and/or not having the same goal as the parent. The parent is often rushed and trying to get to the next step. The child is not being given the attention in the way they want. So they play up. Or they want to do something else instead…so they play up!

Some answers:

Speak to them at a different time when all is calm to explain what it is they need to do and how you will help. Ask them what the problem is and listen to the answer.

If you feel it may help create pictures/symbols of the tasks that need doing or a simple checklist – producing this can be a joint craft activity. The chart or checklist may be used as a reminder during the routine or as a checking-off activity (maybe with a very special pen) for your child.

Get on the same page as other adults in the household so everyone is giving the same messages.

Start the routine earlier than you might (on a temporary basis).

Build in time for positive attention and rewarding activities to be carried out.

Consider the positive attention you will give during the routine, such as:

  • playing with them for a short while after a tricky part of the routine
  • a cuddle when they wake up
  • having fun and a joke as they are brushing their teeth
  • a chat over breakfast
  • fun at bath time and a bedtime story

Use ‘when…then…..’  e.g. ‘When you have brushed your teeth you can watch TV for 10 minutes’; ‘When you are ready we will get your scooter out for you to ride to school’; ‘When you are out of the bath you can choose a book for us to read’.

You might want to consider a reward system with a sticker for each task in the routine (bear in mind they may need to get a ‘concrete’ nice reward pretty quickly, but don’t be tempted to buy your way out of the problem).

Consider how you will address reluctance to follow instructions or refusal to do as asked (despite your best efforts at implementing the positive techniques listed above). Your actions should be proportionate and only last as long as it takes for them to get back on track with their behaviour.

Follow through without lots of reminders/nagging. So for each task that needs to be completed but things aren’t moving forward work steadily through the following steps:

  1. Give your clear instruction and do some ‘jollying along’ – try ‘when…then…’ again.
  2. Remind and show some sympathy and understanding of their point of view (even if you are struggling to understand or you feel irritated by their reluctance)
  3. Warn of the consequence if there is no cooperation
  4. Follow through ( e.g: TV goes off, no scooter on the way to school, removal of a toy until they are able to cooperate)
  5. Show appreciation and give lots of positive attention when things start to go right

Good luck, keep calm and persevere – it sometimes takes a while before our kids realise we mean it and the tasks we require become unquestioning habits for them.

Does this post resonate with you?

Contact me today, I have a proven track record of gaining success in changing behaviour. I have a wealth of experience, and my advice is based on positive and respectful management of children with appropriate boundary setting.
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