Bathroom: Visual Routine
How to Use a Visual Routine in the Bathroom
The bathroom is a prime place for routines. Potty breaks, brushing teeth, and bathing are all multi-step processes that are apt to trip children up. The Power of Intention asks us to see the missing skill or need behind every undesirable behavior. Often, struggles in your day are a warning sign that a clear routine is needed. The brain is a pattern-seeking device, and the clearer we make the pattern, the better we prime children’s brains for success.
Young children think in pictures. And even when they grow up, the right hemisphere of the brain, which processes information in images, is in charge of self-regulation, so it’s essential to show visual images of what to do next. The more consistent and visual our daily routines are, the more likely children are to be successful in meeting our expectations (and the more smoothly and cooperatively the day will run).
Let’s take potty breaks as an example. The general routine is “Go, flush, wash.” Photograph and label a Visual Routine that shows this process. Post it in the bathroom. Refer to it when you take your child to the bathroom. Sing “I Gotta Go” from Brain Boogie Boosters, which brilliantly puts this routine to music. Before long, the routine will become second nature to your child, just like it is for you! And when outside stressors or distractions trip your child up, you can simply refer back to the Visual Routine to help the child get back on track. When Shubert is dancing around the sink using his toothbrush as a microphone, Dad points to the routine and says, “Let’s see, you just brushed your teeth. What comes next?” This approach refocuses Shubert’s attention and scaffolds his emerging Executive Skills (like impulse control and goal achievement) to help him learn to better manage his behavior. It also helps take the burden of repetition off of Dad by teaching his kids to consult their routines to determine what comes next.