In today’s world of video games and gadgets it is easy for our children to waste many valuable hours doing activities that we as parents may not believe to be the best use of time. So instead we encourage our children to become involved in structured activities. While some parents supplement their child’s other activities such as un-scheduled play time with these scheduled activities, other parents fill their children’s schedules as much as possible. This is done for a number of reasons, none of which are necessarily wrong or bad. However, there are benefits to allowing your child to have some free time and disadvantages to having your child be too busy for anything else.
Because well intentioned parents are not trying to make their kids’ lives too busy, it can be difficult for parents to realize when their own child has reached their limit. Often times, children who are too busy, exhibit symptoms that parents associate with laziness or a lack of motivation. It is unfair of us parents to expect the impossible from our children so you need to take a close look at your child’s schedule and learn how to determine if your child is too busy.
How to determine if your child is too busy
1.Look for signs your child may show of being overscheduled
•Does your child feel tired, overly anxious, or even depressed especially when schedules or matters of regular activities are discussed?
•Does your child suffer from head or stomach aches? Do you think that the cause of such ailments could be due to stress, poor eating habits or lack of sleep?
•Has your otherwise good student fallen behind in school (as in failed to get assignments in on time) or have their grades dropped?
•As a parent, are you finding that you are constantly driving your children to this or that appointment? Have you been missing meals together or other regular family activities that you once were sure to do weekly if not daily?
•As a parent are you feeling the stress of keeping up with your children’s schedules to the point that you spend all of your time chauffeuring them around?
•Do you feel like you no longer have time together as a family to stay connected with each other?
•All of the above questions when answered in the affirmative are strong indicators that your child is being overscheduled and is therefore too busy.
2.Talk with your child about his or her schedule
•Determine if there is a planned activity that the child would rather do without (of course encourage the serious answer as some scheduled events, such as going to school, are probably not up for debate).
•Ask your child if they believe that they have enough time to be the kind of student and friend that they would like to be.
•Talk with your child about changes that you as the parent may be able to make in order to lessen the stress of the child’s schedule.
Other tips and warnings
Of course, no one is saying that a soccer practice here or a dance recital there is going to be too much for your children. Structured activities are great, but limitations must be understood. If a child has no time to engage in creative, independent and unscheduled play, many opportunities for maturity and growth can be missed. A child also needs to have flexibility in their schedule to be spontaneous and to simply be a kid. Just as adults need some time to relax, children need to know that there are times during the day when they can choose how they spend their time.