CREATING RHYTHM AND RITUALS
Creating a rhythm in the day and week can be of immense help for both the parents and the child. Having regular meals, naps, bedtimes and outside activities gives structure to the day and gives a growing and developing child a sense of security and trust to know or recognize what is coming. Rhythm gives an outer structure that creates a consistent, calm environment they can trust, and their life is filled without the need for constant surprises. This sense of security allows them to focus on what they are currently developing rather than constantly having to adapt to outer changes. Regular meals allow the body to prepare for mealtime and better digest food. Then, there is the advantage of sleep. If a regular nap time and bed time is established, the body's natural rhythm is supported which allows for better sleep, and less fuss going to bed.
When rhythm is added to the structure of the day, it also helps parents to be efficient with their time and energy and allows them to more easily plan ahead to create and provide interesting, healthy activities. When a child knows what comes next in the day, there is often less fussing, less need for discipline or negotiating because the course of events is accepted. And the family patterns established in the first two years can be helpful for living through the sometimes challenging “no” years.
One can also add the rhythm of inside and outside activity. Outside activities are a wonderful balance to playing inside, allowing for running around, making endless discoveries, and enjoying braving weather, cold, hot or damp. Examples of some outdoor activities are: a morning or afternoon walk, picking up sticks, pinecones, leaves or stones, running in the park, walking in the rain or snow, exploring the neighbourhood, pushing a stroller, or when they are older, picking up garbage or trash and putting them in a bag, learning to ride a tricycle, helping with gardening, etc. With the exercise and fresh air, it can make for hungrier children at meals and quieter activities indoors.
For some people, establishing rhythm in a day can be very difficult. A good place to start is regular sleeping times and meals. A child may grow to know and love a bedtime routine that is done almost as a ritual every night, a sequence of simple events done with full attention. For example, saying goodnight to the toys as they are put away, then brushing the teeth, changing into a pyjama, saying goodnight to favourite objects in the room, then going over the story of the day (what the child saw and did) and ending with a lullabye or prayer or blessing and "good night". Or at mealtimes, setting the table in the same order, making up a setting-the-table song, can awaken the child's interest and encourage them to participate. Or beginning a meal by lighting a candle with a verse or a grace, or starting to eat together with "bon appétit" or "blessing on the meal", are small ways to bring more regularity to an otherwise hectic day.
 Dancy, Rahima Baldwin. You Are Your Child's First Teacher. Celestial Arts, Berkley, California, 1988
 Largo, Remo H.. Babyjahre Die frühkindliche Entwicklung aus biologogischer Sicht. Piper Verlag GmbH, Hamburg,
Saying Grace, (La Benedicite), Salon of 1740 by Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin
A young girl picking flowers by Marianne Stokes
Pissaro, Camille - Woman hanging her wash
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