Children are just as susceptible as adults are when it comes to being overwhelmed by a busy schedule. But where adults often have the skills needed to make changes so as to better manage their time, children often need guidance and boundaries that help them to stick to a schedule of activities that is both realistic and enriching.
Setting boundaries with the amount of activities your child is involved in is an excellent way to prevent over-scheduling problems from ever occurring or to sort your way out of an schedule that has become too much to handle. Here are some simple rules that you as a family can establish to ensure that busy schedules do not become too much for both parents and children to handle.
Boundaries for children’s activities
1.Agree on some ground rules before allowing your children to sign up for any kind of activity. Such ground rules might include that each child is only allowed to sign up for one sport’s team at a time or that only three of the five week day afternoons can be spent on activities while the other afternoons must be devoted to school and family time.
2.Teach your child to consider just how much of a time commitment any given activity will require. Often times children do not consider that signing up for certain activity will take up as much time as it will. Help your child to write out and really think about how much time will be sacrificed in order to participate in a particular activity.
3.Write it down and stay organized. Busy families need to have a way of organizing everyone’s schedules so that no one child is unduly stressed. Parents must also use this process as an opportunity to establish boundaries of their own. Parents should have at least enough influence over their child’s activities so that one parent isn’t spending all of their time chauffeuring the kids from one activity to another.
4.Allow for some missed practices. Activities are just that, activities, and ought not to be treated with as much importance as other things in life. If the opportunity to do something more important presents itself, do not hesitate to have your child miss a class or lesson in order to take advantage of something more important. Doing so is a good reminder to you as a parent and a good lesson to your children to always remember where your priorities lie.
5.Establish consequences for slipping grades and missing important family events. If your child begins doing poorly in school or frequently disregards your pre-established family times, the natural consequence will be the removal of an activity. Make sure that this is understood and agreed to up front.
6.Know when to say no. Parents want to do everything for their children including indulging them with all of the things that their children ask for. But of course, there needs to be a line drawn and there will be times when you need to do your job as a parent and put your foot down for the greater good of the child. If your child asks you to participate in an activity and you know that it will become too much for your child to handle, make sure that you do the responsible thing.
7.Do not underestimate the value of free time. Our kids do not need to have every moment of everyday planned out for them. Free time or down time to be spontaneous, to catch up on projects, and to just be a kid is essential. Children need to learn how to manage their own time and there is no way that they can do that if every thing is already planned out for them. Important problem solving skills and creativity can only be learned when a child is allowed to figure these things out for himself.