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How to Create Routines and Rituals with Your Teenager

The Disorganized Teen

Parents often contact me because their teens are not sticking to routines. Your teens might be scattered and disorganized; they might be struggling to turn work in on time or keep their room clean. Furthermore, you might be tired. You are at a loss for how to help.

I get it.

It’s challenging for you to find the balance between giving your teenager space to try (which also means allowing them to “fail” sometimes) and doing things for them. Let’s be honest: It’s easier to do things for them. AND, in the long run this is going to cost them. Furthermore, the balance can feel pretty delicate.


Your teenager may frequently test their boundaries and limits, as well as the boundaries and limits of the people they interact with, including you. The teenage brain is taking in and cataloging new information. Thus, teenager are constantly computing what they are seeing and noticing around them means for them and their identity.

Through this interesting developmental time, routines are crucial and helpful. Said another way, the teenage brain functions best when it knows what to expect (aka when it recognizes boundaries and limits).

This said, it’s helpful for you to model daily routines that support you and your family in transitioning through various parts of your day. Routines include things such as wake-up time and bedtime, chores, mealtimes, homework expectations, and laundry schedules.

Each of these routines can offer your teenager support in recognizing boundaries and figuring out how they can be their most connected, productive, and kind Selves. Your family will be ESPECIALLY successful at establishing routines when you use the agreement-making process.

Beyond Routines

When I talk with teenagers, we address routines often. And we also talk about rituals.

Sometimes, routines feel like work, even when they are supportive. Rituals, though, feel like sweet, kind self-care. (This is true for both teenagers and parents!)

We talk about taking epsome salt baths on Sunday nights, putting phones on night shift at 8:30 pm, dancing to a favorite song while getting ready for school, drinking tea in silence on the porch, and so on. These are all rituals: actions or behaviors that bring you into connection with ourselves

While routines offer you structure, rituals allow you to slow down and be with yourself. Both of these tools are beneficial, and together, this can be a beautiful recipe for connection.

A morning where everyone has eaten, brushed their teeth, and is out the door on time is wonderful. Add a morning sing-along or journaling to the mix, and support and connection deepen.

There’s no right or wrong way to find a ritual, and you’ll likely know when you’ve found one that serves you. It will be a special moment with and for yourself.

Consider these 3 questions to help you (or your teenager) explore new rituals or name those you already utilize:

  1. What every day things or practices bring me comfort?
  2. How can I get in touch with my senses and/or my body?
  3. What type of energetic support do I need?

For me, morning matcha and journaling is a comforting practice. Baths with essential oils and/or a lit candle help me connect with my senses And, finally, calm, soothing support is typically what I need to help me destress and relax.

As you and your family explore routines and rituals that bring you each into greater connection with yourselves and one another, you may enjoy documenting these on your support system map.

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