Have you ever wondered if there’s some magic (legal) pill that can calm a screaming toddler, an endlessly energetic 2nd grader, or an overly dramatic teen? Have you scoured the internet looking for a way to calm kids naturally?
You probably have. How do I know? Just google “calming vitamin for kids.” There’s an entire industry of choices for us poor, overwhelmed parents. And, to be sure, some of them are probably super helpful. But some of the stuff you find when you’re desperately on your computer at 3:00am is probably worthless. But at 3:00am, you’ll throw money at whatever promises to help you get some order back into your life.
Well, save your money! There’s a free way to calm kids naturally!
What is it? Consistency. Routine. It’s a sometimes elusive, always worth-it life choice that helps almost every kid!
Let’s talk about how it helps and some ways you can build it into your crazy life.
Consistency and routines offer kids security. Kids can take ownership and feel confident because they can participate in what’s next without having to ask a lot of questions. It’s great for their (and your) physical health—routines help develop better eating, sleep, and wake cycles (not to mention encouraging more regular, um, bathroom time—gross, but hey—it matters). Consistency and routine can even reinforce family values. All of those things lead to naturally calmer kids and naturally saner parents!
So, how do you get started? First, think about your day. Is there a time when your kids are more hyper? More combative? When you feel most drained? Pray, and ask God to reveal to you what you or your kids are reacting to and what routines may simplify the problem.
If you’re worried about trying to establish something new during the most hectic part of your day, then instead focus on a day when everyone is already calmer. Build consistency into that time. Sometimes that’s the ticket out of mayhem later!
When you’re developing consistent routines into your family, pick things that they already have to do every single day, first, and try to get it tied to a more specific time and order. Then, after a few weeks, take a stab at some more routines. It’s hard work, but it’s good work, so be encouraged:
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 NLT
You might actually have some of these in place already! Household routines include waking up at the same time each day, getting ready in the same order each day. You wake up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, wash your face, then get dressed. They can be centered around tasks for a mealtime. While you prepare food, one kid sets the table, another pours drinks. Routines can even be special for special days. Maybe on Saturdays you sleep in and have a special breakfast like donuts or pancakes, and you stay in your jammies until noon. Essentially, home routines boil down to bed times, waking times, eating times, chore times, and getting ready times.
School and Daycare Routines
Most schools and daycares have a set schedule for arrival, snacks, meals, naps, play times, and learning times. Find out what your kids’ schedules are at school so you can implement them at home when kids are off. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to teach them math at 10:30 every day—but try to keep with the same snack times, play times, and rest times to make it easier for your kids (and for you!) And what if you homeschool? Try beginning at the same time, eating at the same time, and having times set to learn about each subject. Your kids will get used to the structure and it can make that whole part of your day calmer, too!
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, … Hebrews 10:25 NLT
Home routines and school/daycare routines are very important for your kids’ physical health. But routines and consistency play a huge role in strengthening family values and contributing to your kids’ spiritual growth. You ask your kid to brush their teeth each day. You make sure they eat. When they’re sick, you give them rest, medicine, or take them to the doctor. Do the same for their heart! Be consistent attending church as a family. Make the Bible a part of your daily schedule. Volunteer together. Have fun family dance parties regularly to worship God or have a regularly occurring family game night that includes Bible verse memorization competition. Give kids time they can look forward to each day to download what they’re going through and to pray together.
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV
Let your kids see what’s consistent in your life. Let them know when you’re at work, when you’re grocery shopping, budgeting, or planning meals. All of the regular, consistent tasks you do are a part of your routine, and your kids can learn from them. Let them see you regularly show love and kindness to others, and if you’re married, let them see you treat your spouse respectfully and make up with them if you’ve had an argument. It’s okay for them to get used to you having a routinely scheduled date night, too! Most importantly, let your kids see you regularly engaging with prayer, quiet meditation on God’s Word, or encouraging others in Christ. Your consistent example in the small details speaks volumes to your kids about what really matters in life!
That’s a lot about routine and consistency. Now think about this: flexibility matters.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT
Building routines that are too rigid or extreme can make your kids feel rebellious (read: less calm) or it can make them so dependent on mealtimes, snacks, and even brushing their teeth at a certain time that they become anxious (also: less calm) when they’re not following their routine. Pray for balance and direction as you take on the areas of inconsistency in your family.