Extra-curricular activities are a big deal to a lot of parents. For many reasons, I can understand why. Kids involved in activities are less likely to get in trouble, statistically speaking. It also gets kids outside, away from TV.
Many parents hope their kid’s extra-curricular activity leads to a scholarship or a career.
That’s the worst reason to sign your kid up for swimming and the like. Kids don’t play anymore. They’re too busy living the lives of someone twice their age. Piano lessons, tennis lessons, gymnastics. All this during the school year? That’s a lot for a little person to handle.
I remember being exhausted at the end of the school day and wanted nothing more than to go home, grab a snack, relax and hang out with my friends. But many parents of today would call that wasting time.
As therapist Jeremy Schneider notes in his column for The Star, “Parents feel remiss that they’re not being good parents if their kids aren’t in all kinds of activities,” wrote Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., a child psychiatrist and author of The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap said in a recent Psychology Today article. “Children are under pressure to achieve, to be competitive. I know sixth-graders who are already working on their resumes so they’ll have an edge when they apply for college.”
My thoughts? Just let your kids be kids. If they ask to take a karate class, by all means. But don’t shove them into something because you think it’ll look snazzy on a resume or whatever. And even if they do ask to sign up for an extra-curricular activity, it may quickly overwhelm them. There comes a point of diminishing returns.
As Schneider reports, here are some signs that you’ve got your child overbooked:
1. Your child is anxious, frustrated and has emotional outbursts. Schneider says kids who don’t get downtime don’t have an opportunity to process their emotions. “Whether we realize it or not, we all use downtime to sort out our feelings about the day’s experiences. Hurrying from one activity to another without free time causes a build-up of emotional energy that needs an outlet. This may cause children to have emotional outbursts, throw tantrums, or shout angry retorts.”
Although a child may seem like they’re handling their busy schedule it can be overwhelming. You may see them express worries about going to school or doubting their ability to perform well. Anxiety also can be manifested in headaches or stomachaches.
2. If your kid misses family gatherings or friend get-togethers, he’s overbooked. Also, Schneider says kids also need unstructured time with their parents, family and friends when there’s no pressure to do anything or be anywhere.
3. You may need to pare down your kid’s activities if she cheers when a lesson or practice is cancelled. Schneider notes that If kids react with enthusiasm when a scheduled activity doesn’t happen, it’s a good time to ask whether they really want to do that activity or not.
Schneider goes onto list more signs your child may be too busy and what you can do about it. You can check out the entire article by clicking here.
Is your kid in extra-curricular activities? How do you try to balance their schedule? Have they ever seemed overwhelmed? What was your response?