Having had reasonably good success (if I do say so myself) with raising our first child - who is now in kindergarten - I'm looking ahead to our second, who has just arrived. Being pleased with the way our first child has turned out thus far, I've been tending to take a retrospective look at what we did with him to have him turn out the way he did. In the process, I've determined that there are four R's in the raising of our child that helped us succeed. These R's made it not only easier upon us as parent as we tried to teach, discipline, and enjoy our son, but easier on him as well.
I've certainly found that things are much simpler when we have rules in place for our son. From meals time rules and chores to disciplinary measures and etiquette, there are a number of items we have in place to help put some order to our little one's life. Not only do such rules make it easier for him to know what is expected of him from his parents, but for his parents to stay on the same page when it comes to what we expect from him and how we discipline him.
Routine not only helps keep our son on track, but me as the work-at-home dad as well. Being able to get our son into a routine helps make my life easier and allows him to learn how to take on more things himself since he knows what the routine is and what is expected of him.
I've found that the best times for routine at this age (age five) revolve around times like morning, afternoon and evening. Each morning our son knows that he will get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, go to the bathroom, brush his teeth, get his shoes on, etc. In the afternoon after school, he knows he will eat lunch while watching a few cartoons, do some homework or other learning activities, and then get quiet play time or be able to take a nap. In the evening before bed he knows he'll get his pajamas on, brush his teeth, go potty, etc. Having these tasks drilled into him save us time and frustration and help keep him on task and learning to be more independent.
I'm a person who enjoys knowing what's coming and when, and I think my son does as well. Having a routine is one thing, but that routine only works if we practice it regularly. I've been a long time fan of getting our son into a regular schedule, even before he was in school, and now that he's in school, I think it's even more important. Doing things like keeping up learning activities even when he doesn't have homework, paying a weekly allowance, and scheduling other activities on a regular basis helps teach our son about regularly occurring events and how to plan for such activities.
Kindergarten has been an interesting experience for both me and our son. Since he didn't go to pre-school, the school routine is new to him, and while he only goes half a day, so far it seems like it is quite exhausting for him. Initially, I didn't like the fact that he wanted to take afternoon naps upon returning from school since we had gotten away from them as he grew older, but I'm finding that it actually works out since it gives me more time to work and it provides him the rest he needs. We had to cut a deal though that he had to wake up in a good mood if he wants to take naps since he can be a little demon otherwise. Since we've had that discussion he has stuck to our new rule and it getting plenty of rest in the process.
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