Predictability and consistency are essential for all children, whether babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. While children thrive on this predictability and feel safe and secure knowing the routine, it is also important to teach children to be flexible. Rigid routines do not take individual families differences into account. For example, in a family where there is a working parent, a child may not go to sleep at 8pm, because the working parent wants quality time when they come home. As long as the child ends up getting enough sleep for their body so that they wake up ready to take on the next day, who’s to say what bed time is appropriate.
A routine that considers your child and family allows you and your child some flexibility and greatly reduces stress. Young children learn to have faith in a bigger, stronger grown up who will always keep them safe. If a bottle is given 30 minutes earlier than the plan, or a preschooler naps after they really “given up” their nap, you are all going to be happier and feel that your needs are met. Another prime example is where a child naps. Certainly you should acknowledge where they sleep best, but also recognize that schedules change. Helping children to be able to sleep in multiple places aids everyone’s flexibility.