Do you believe that a day-to-day structure is an important part of a child’s schedule? Do you think it affects their attitude in any way? Why or why not?
Let me first say that in “The Secrets of Happy Families” I don’t have an ideology I’m trying to promote. I, for one, was fed up with all the mommy wars (“Be strict like the Chinese!” “No, be lax like the French!”). Instead, I’ve tried to look for what’s working out there. And the research is consistent that routines and schedules are extremely helpful for kids. But the bigger takeaway is that you have to constantly change those routines to adjust for how your kids are evolving.
The single best thing we’ve done is to add a weekly family meeting. We ask three questions, based on a popular program called “agile families”: 1) What went well in our family this week? 2) What didn’t go well? 3) What will we agree to work on this week. The key is to have your kids pick their own rewards and punishments. Research shows that children who plan their own time, set weekly goals, and evaluate their own work build up their frontal cortex, take greater control over their lives, and become more internally motivated.