Young children can test their limits and this is how they learn the right and wrong. Sometimes, it can be frustrating and test our patience as parents. A simple way to keep control and help children learn is to create structure. Consistent routines and rules help to build a structure. Rules help in teaching children what behaviours are okay and what are not okay while routines teach them what to expect throughout the day.

Following things can help parents to plan to build a structure

Consistency: Doing the same thing every time

  • Consistency means responding to the child’s behaviour the same way every time, no matter what is going on or how you’re feeling. This way, children are less likely to misbehave if you always use the same consequence; e.g., ignoring or time-out.

  • If you let your child know that you like good behaviours, such behaviours are likely to be repeated.

  • This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to give consistent attention to all of your child’s behaviours.

  • Come up with something you want your child to do more frequently, such as sharing, cleaning up or following directions.

  • You can encourage these behaviours by praising them each time you see them occur.


Praise your child each time he/ she shares anything with a new friend while playing.

Predictability: Expecting or knowing what is going to happen

  • This means your child knows what will happen and how you will respond to his/ her act.

  • When your daily behaviours are predictable, your kid knows what to expect for the day.

  • When the rules are predictable, the child will know how the reaction will be to her/ his behaviour.


Your child should know certain steps are followed every night at bedtime, e.g., bathing, brushing teeth, reading a story, getting into bed and turning off the lights.

Follow-through: Enforcing the consequence

  • This means you do what you say you will do in response to your child’s behaviours.

  • If you tell your child that a behaviour will be punished, you must punish it every time it happens.

  • If you tell your child he/ she will be rewarded for a particular behaviour; you need to give him/ her the reward after that behaviour.


When you tell your child that they will be scolded if they scribble on the wall, they will remember this and try to avoid doing that. In case they do, follow through with the scolding.

How do consistency, predictability, and follow-through help create a structure?

Daily you follow a basic routine and rules; thus, setting appropriate expectations and limits for your child’s behaviours. This way, your child learns how you are going to respond to behaviours that are okay or not okay.

Structure helps you and your kids. This helps kids feeling safe and secure because they know what to expect. You feel confident because you know how to respond, and they respond the same way each time. Thus, routines and rules aid in structuring the home and making life more predictable.


Building structure[Internet]. Available at: Accessed on Feb 17, 2020.