B. H. Fiese, R. S. Everhart

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Children’s daily life is structured around routines such as feeding, sleep, and getting ready. Routines are defined as a sequence of highly ordered steps that occur in common settings such as mealtimes, bedtimes, and leisure activities. Participation in regular routines has been found to be related to language development, academic achievement, and socioemotional development. The timing and content of children’s routines also varies across cultures. These daily activities aid children in becoming competent and self-assured members of society. The early childhood years are replete with routines. Establishing routines around eating, sleeping, and toilet training are not only a topic of conversation for parents of toddlers but consume much of the daily life of families with young children. Children of preschool age learn to make the transition from “being a baby” to “I’m a big girl now!” through becoming more engaged in routines such as family mealtimes, night-time stories, and household chores. Successful transition to school is often marked by negotiating routines such as learning to stand in line, respecting naptime as a set aside quiet time, and knowing that Friday’s are for show and tell. In this article, we discuss the importance of child routines from several different vantage points. First, we define what we mean by routines and how they are distinguished from such concepts as habits. Second, we identify the developmental course of childhood routines that encourage the child to take on a more active role as he becomes more competent. Third, we present some of the findings that suggest that predictable and regular routines in a child’s life are associated with positive outcomes such as enriched language development, empathy and caring for others, and well-regulated behavior. Finally, we discuss how children’s engagement in routines differs across cultures suggesting that cultural practices are conveyed, in part, by children’s engagement in daily routines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development
EditorsMarshall M Haith, Janette B Benson
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780123708779
ISBN (Print)9780123704603
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bedtime
  • Book reading
  • Cross-cultural
  • Daily life
  • Discipline
  • Family
  • Feeding
  • Household chores
  • Mealtime
  • Parenting
  • Rituals
  • Routines
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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