Why routines are good for teens

We’ve all heard the benefits of creating structure and routine for toddlers and young children. But did you know routines benefit teenagers, too?

Of course, there will always be differences in how each individual adopts and adapts to routines in their life, but in general it is going to offer predictability that will make things flow smoothly.

Benefits of routines for teenagers

The Australian Government’s Learning Potential website outlines some key benefits of routines for teens, including:

  • Offering a sense of safety and security within their homes
  • Strengthening relationships when created to include family time
  • Supporting their body’s body clock when focused around a regular bedtime
  • Enhancing their sense of empowerment and responsibility by incorporating important tasks within their routine (ie, chores)
  • Helping them develop basic time management and work skills

A study conducted by the University of Georgia and published in November 2018 in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that implementing routines (and, thereby, predictability) can help teenagers cultivate success later in life. An article for reports that teens whose families relied on routines within the home drank less alcohol, had greater self-control and emotional wellbeing, and experienced less stress.

3 tips for getting teens to accept new routines

  1. Ownership is key. Let them have a say in how the routine plays out to get their buy-in and accept responsibility for sticking to the routine they have agreed to.
  2. Create a visual representation of the routine, to encourage your teen to remember what they have taken on. It may also help to add tasks to a family calendar or planner, as well as somehow add it to their phone or computer, perhaps as a graphic or through a reminder app.
  3. Explain to your teen WHY they need a routine. You may get some push back when you float the idea of basically scheduling their day. If they understand that it will help make their day (and life) easier, you may be surprised at how quickly they jump on board!

Creating a good routine

A good routine should span the entire day. Wake-up and going-to-bed times should be the same every weekday, with a focus on getting their things done and to school on time daily. Weekends can be a bit lax, but it’s a good idea to still have some sort of routine for weekends, as well.

Make sure there is time for study and homework – with a focus on assignment deadlines and exam dates – as well as time to chill. Knowing there is time off feels like a reward to your teen, so they will be more invested in adhering to the routine.

Screen time becomes much easier to manage when it is part of an established routine. If your teen needs to use their mobile device or computer for homework, that time is incorporated into their daily or weekly schedule. Recreational time using their device for games or social media, or watching TV, should also form part of the routine. Once they have had their allotted screen time, it’s time for another activity.

Remember, creating a routine isn’t the same as implementing and STICKING TO one. A routine needs to be habitual to be effective. We want to create a new “good habit” that will offer all the benefits we’ve talked about so far. Being adaptable and changing the “criteria” as your teen grows is key to maintaining a positive perception of the routine, according to respected Australian parenting website Raising Children Network.

Family routines

So far, we’ve discussed the benefits of routines for your teenagers, as well as the benefits these offer. But, what about the rest of the family?

Like any routine, it is most easily accepted as “normal” if everyone is doing it. If someone is unwell, giving them chicken broth while the rest of the family enjoys a cheesy pizza isn’t all that encouraging. Take a look at the family as a holistic unit and look at where you can set up some routines for other family members, as well as the family as a whole.

Ideas for things to include in a family routine:

  • Family mealtimes, including cooking
  • Regular family activities, such as a weekly board game night or walking the dog together every evening
  • Regular get-togethers with extended family and/or family friends
  • Participation in community events, such as festivals or markets
  • Dedicated time with each parent, so that each child feels valued for who they are

If every family member thinks of themselves as one part of a whole, you’ll soon have all your kids (and yourselves) working together like clockwork!

Stephanie Kakris

Stephanie Kakris

Stephanie Kakris has a Masters in Psychology and is a published parenting author. She is the co-founder of ScreenCoach, a combined hardware and software platform where kids are allocated a set amount of screen time, and after their time is up, they need to go and complete activities such as exercise, chores or non-screen play to earn more time before they can resume.
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