It is good to be busy. It is good to have enriching and uplifting activities planned rather than to take a complacent attitude about raising your children. It is good for children to have structure and planned activities that they enjoy and that can teach them important lessons. But often times the line between healthy and un-healthy busy-ness levels becomes difficult to distinguish and our children are negatively affected by their schedule. As it is up to each family to decide what busy-ness levels are appropriate for their children, below are simple suggestions of a few things to keep in mind when determining if your child is at a healthy busy-ness level.
Time for School
One of the most common side effects of a child who is too busy is that they begin to do poorly in school. When a child has too much on his or her plate, school assignments begin to be turned in late, test scores drop, and even a complacency for school as a whole may develop. Children are required to devote a great deal of time to school. With the average school day being just about as long as a full-time job schedule, it is not hard to see how multiple activities can easily become too much for our children to handle. Of course it is not fair to say to our children that they should be devoting all of their time to their studies and therefore not allow for any kinds of activities. Activities can enhance our children’s life experiences and can provide them with an education of a different sort. Rather, it is important to be aware of how school and activities are affecting each other and to work with your child to make adjustments that will help him to be more successful.
The Importance of Free Time for Creative Play
As parents, we only want the best for our children. We want them to do well in school. We want our children to be popular and talented. We want our children to have life experiences that will help them in the future. Sometimes, we want more for our children than they can handle. It is important for parents to take a step back and allow their children time to be carefree, playful and imaginative. Kids need time to be silly and to do things that only kids do best. Children need to have enough time to explore and to find things out for themselves. This free time is precious time where valuable personal skills are learned. Skills of problem solving, communication, exploration and innovation need time to develop. Having our children keep up a busy pace that does not allow for a childhood is definitely not healthy.
Time for Regular Family Activities
Hundreds of studies support the fact that children who come from loving families who spend regular time together become more well rounded and mature adults. Individual studies support the fact that family time promotes better performance in school, less of a probability of falling into trouble with drugs or alcohol, and a good relationship with authority figures. If you find that your child’s busy-ness level interferes with regular family time, that level of busy-ness could very well be unhealthy. If you notice that your child is always at practice and therefore misses family dinner or has a game every Saturday and is therefore unable to accompany the family on outings, some changes may need to be made. Of course it is not a problem if once or twice there is a conflict in the schedule; this is bound to happen from time to time. However if the frequency of such activity and family conflicts becomes more prominent it may be time to take action to again restore a healthier level of busy-ness for your child.