Is Your Child Too Busy?
Why Are Children So Busy?
For some families, kids may be driving the schedule because they do not want to feel left out. Teens may feel pressure to boost their roster of activities to get into the college of their choice.
Some parents feel it is more productive to keep their children constantly occupied rather leave free time for playing, exploring, and learning on their own. They might also feel that their children will miss out on key experiences if they are not doing what other children are.
But most parents usually just want what seems best for their children. Even when intentions are good, though, children can easily become overscheduled. The pressure to participate in a handful of activities all the time and to "keep up" can be physically and emotionally exhausting for parents and kids alike.
Of course, organized activities and sports are beneficial, too. They foster social skills and are opportunities for play and exercise. They teach sportsmanship, self-discipline, and conflict resolution. Most of all, they are fun! The key is to keep them that way and ensure that children - and parents - are not overwhelmed.
Signs That Children Are Too Busy
Sooner or later, children who are too busy will begin to show signs. Every child is different, but overscheduled children may:
feel tired, anxious, or depressed
complain of headaches and stomachaches, which may be due to stress, missed meals, or lack of sleep
fall behind on their schoolwork, causing their grades to drop
Over scheduling can also take a toll on children's' friendships and social lives. Family life also can suffer - when one parent is driving to basketball practice and the other is carpooling to dance class, meals are missed. As a result, some families rarely eat dinner together, and may not take the extra time to stay connected.
Plus, the weekly grind of driving children all over the place and getting to one class, game, or practice after another can be downright tiresome and stressful for parents.