We all know that too much of a good thing can quickly turn into a bad thing. Yet, some times it is hard for us to see when we are overdoing it. The challenge is especially difficult for those of us with the responsibility of raising children. Of course we want to give our children everything they want, but know that to do so would not be healthy for them. Yet in even this simple example there is a grey area. How much is too much? How are we to know when our children have had enough?
A simple answer is that parents must base their decisions on their children and individual circumstances. Finding a balance can be difficult, especially when failing to do so can result in negative consequences for our children. Of course we all want what is best for our kids. The only problem is that it is difficult to do all that you can without overdoing it. This is especially true when it comes to scheduling activities and other types of stimulation for our children.
Parents are no strangers to the negative influences of video games, electronic handheld devices, etc. when these things take up so much of their free time. No parent can be happy with the prospect of allowing their child to fritter away their days doing things of little or no consequence. So what do we do? We get our kids involved in activities. We have them sign up for sports teams. Play practices, piano lessons, etc. We think that these activities will keep them out of trouble and away from the negative influences of media and laziness due to constant video game playing. Some parents do not have children who have problems wisely managing their time, but their motivation for signing their kids up for activities is to allow them to experience different opportunities in life.
Some parents encourage their children to do extracurricular activities as a way of getting their foot in the door at a college or university. Other parents want their children to have the experiences that they were unable to have and force schedules on their children that they may not even be interested in keeping. There are dozens and dozens of scenarios that can lead to the over scheduling of your child.
Whether it is the parent or the child doing the influencing, it is necessary to set guidelines when it comes to stimulating your children and rules for what should be done if overdoing it becomes a problem. Parents can initiate a schedule that can stimulate children without overdoing it so long as there are some ground rules that should be followed. Children should not have every spare moment scheduled. There needs to be free time to study and work on school projects, time to spend with family, and time to be spontaneous with friends or to be creative, contemplative or imaginative in private. Never underestimate the importance of free time. Of course you can set guidelines for free time if you are concerned about how your children will spend it. Putting limits on how long a game can be played or how long the television can be on are just two examples.
If even after your efforts to keep your child’s schedule under control you find that your child is overdoing it, intervene. Parents should sit down with their children and ask them if they are feeling overwhelmed. Discuss possible solutions together. Eliminate an activity if it is necessary. Re-establish the importance of sticking to your priorities of school and family. Make sure that your child knows that it is ok to say no to an activity when there is simply not enough time in the day to participate.