Are we over scheduling our children? Today’s kids can have so many activities and lessons that they have to attend that they end up stressed out.
During the school year many parents take on the role of chauffeur as they drive their children from one lesson to another. Understandably so. Many of us want our children to have a little taste of everything, from organized sports to music, dance and more. But we can overdo it, leaving our children feeling a little burnt out, and according to parent educator Diane Loisie, it’s their school work which suffers the most. “After school, if they’re involved in a number of sporting events, plus they need to do their homework, then the time they’ll do their vegging out is in the classroom. Your child needs downtime, so if you’re filling up that after school time, then it’s during the day they’re going to be taking a break.”
Therapist Claire McDermott agrees that there’s a lot to be gained from occasionally putting those scheduled lessons and activities on hold. “Vegging out time is important for children, time just to do the things they want to do. A child can go up to their room, they can fiddle around. It doesn’t look like productive time, parents certainly wouldn’t be saying ‘wow are they ever learning things now’, but this unwinding time gives both the body and the brain just a wonderful chance to unwind after a day. It helps a child prepare for sleep, but it also helps consolidate the learning that’s gone on that day.”
So while it’s hard to resist signing our kids up for a stack of activities and lessons, in the long run most children fare better with just a few key activities because it gives them an opportunity to master them. As Loisie explains, “when we get our children over-involved in activities because we want our children to experience everything, then what we’re doing is setting them up to not be good at one thing or gaining a skill. If their time is so fractured by cramming all of this stuff in, then we end up with a child who can’t focus as well as others.”
So choose your children’s activities wisely. It may be one of the best things you’ve ever done for your kids…and for the family chauffeur!
Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.