Is your child overloaded?
Make sure your kids schedule is not over booked to ensure that they still have a childhood.
Are you one of so many well-meaning parents who never miss out on an opportunity to sign your kids up for something?
Are you turning their childhood into a rat-race that looks more like an
adult schedule? Okay, so they have ballet, advanced math class, violin, as
well as hockey practise – definitely don’t want them to miss out on
becoming a well-rounded individual – definitely doing the right thing –
or are you? Somehow it became commonplace to assume kids should try
everything, and be everything.
How is your child coping with her hectic schedule? Has it come to the
point where you are becoming aware of signs of stress? Are you noticing
a decline in your child’s grades, do they seem tired, or are some
behavioural changes popping up? Irritable, sluggish and headache prone
kids on the one hand, and exhausted, stressed, and resentful parents on
Yes, the red flags should be going up round about now!
School clubs, organized sports, and music lessons, are all important
activities that promote social and physical well-being. However, it
often happens that parental expectations are too high and inappropriate,
overloading the child and causing stress. These parents are sending the
message that they expect the child to succeed in all areas of their
life. Kids very often misunderstand parents’ well-meaning intentions and
participate in some activities only because they think parents expect
them to. A lot of pressure, right?
If you as a parent are feeling stressed about the number of
activities your child is involved in, it’s a good indication that it’s
time to cut back. Kids need time to daydream, to chill out. So, be part
of the solution, not the problem. Children are not developmentally able
to handle adult-level stress. Well-meaning parents can sometimes be the
cause of kids being over committed. It is part of good parenting to help
keep kids from becoming stressed and overloaded.So, what’s a parent to do?
- Know your child. One child that is highly scheduled might do very well
and another might need to dial it back. Look out for signs of stress.
- Examine your child’s schedule and schedule family and free time. Shoot for balance not perfection.
- Just say no. Don’t feel guilty about setting limits. But, don’t turn away every opportunity, or even most.
- Also say yes. Allow them to choose activities that they’re interested
in. Talk to your child about how it will impact her life.
- Put academics first. If activities are sapping your child’s time and
energy away from homework, something needs to be cut.
Extracurricular activities should never become the priority.
Focus on the gains, not the losses, should an activity be cut. E.g.
with fewer obligations they might be able to get a pet. Sometimes kids
have an easier time of letting go of some activities if they know it
will create an opportunity for something new they’ve always wanted (such
as a dog).
It may be time for parents themselves to slow down! Think about your
priorities, do you take proper care of yourself and your needs? What
kind of a role model are you? Mmm … Something to think about!