Structure vital to children’s success
Sandra Schiele, Counsel House
Structure is something that parents and caregivers set into motion. It is not created by the child, but rather by the adult when it comes to discipline. Children can, and should, have some input to promote buy-in, but caregivers have the final say.
Structure offers children predictability and security. While many children resist structure, it is in their best interest to be offered it. It helps teach them how to be successful.
Structure consists of tasks, a schedule, expectations and consequences. It begins by laying out the tasks along with a schedule. For example, a caregiver may ask a child to awake at a certain time, eat breakfast at a certain time, then begin virtual learning at a certain time. Lunch occurs at this time. Breaks occur during these times. Homework is to be completed during this time. Supper, leisure time and bedtime routines are scheduled for these times.
Next, the caregiver explains the expectations and consequences for completing, or not completing, the tasks and adhering, or not adhering, to the schedule.
Getting dressed and logged into the school iPad for the start of the day is an expectation. Expectations also include paying attention during the educational components of the day which include, and are not limited to, no television or music, no electronics or gaming, no talking or eating, etc. Taking notes and asking questions for clarity are also expectations. Studying for tests, completing homework assignments and submitting them by the deadlines are also expectations.
Taking a shower, brushing teeth and exercising other hygienic steps are expectations. Completing chores, getting along with others, first-time listening and not back talking are also very reasonable expectations.
Lastly, expectations are followed by consequences. This helps children predict what will happen based on their choices. Consequences must be specific, clear, fair and consistently enforced or else children won’t feel safe. Explain to a child that for every A and B she/he receives, money will be earned. For every D and F, money will be owed. When chores are completed timely and without prompting or back talk, time spent with electronics will be given. If morning and evening routines are not followed, then sentences will be written by the child. For example, the child will be expected to write “Routines are important in making sure things get done timely” 100 times.
I remind parents and caregivers that they are in charge. I empower them to be strong and capable of meeting the new challenges faced during this pandemic as virtual learning may not be a short-term solution, but rather a more permanent measure for months to come.
Stay tuned for more helpful information as it relates to improving our emotional and behavioral health. Remember, if we can be of assistance to you or a loved one, contact us at 812-738-3277 or via email at [email protected]
Editor’s note: Sandra Schiele is a licensed behavioral health specialist who practices at Counsel House in Corydon.