Enrichment activities add a lot to our child’s life, but how much is too much and have we lost the ability to balance them with free play and some old fashioned boredom? Children need time to read, write, think, dream, draw, build, create, fantasize and explore special interests.
So how do we parents become more aware? First, know where the motivation is coming from, you or your child. Second, ensure we don’t live vicariously through our kids and push them into activities we wished we accomplished in and use their success for our bragging rights.
Here are some signs your children may be over-scheduled:
- No Nothing: when was the last time you saw your child sitting quietly? Not with an electronic gadget but day-dreaming, looking into the grass for a magical world or just gazing at the clouds? The last two generations have been the techno-kids, so they think it’s unusual to sit in a car unless watching a DVD, or playing on an iPad.
- Grumpy and Bumpy: Does your child wake up in a bad mood? Do you dread the ride home from school because you know their mood is irritable, bickering with siblings or most of the time they fall asleep within 10 minutes? Do they complain of headaches, tummy aches and sore limbs? Pay attention to these signs it can demonstrate they are over-tired and out of balance.
- Grades in the Grave: Are your child’s grades dropping or is he just not keeping up in certain areas that he once found easy? School work needs to be a priority, if it’s slipping, then extra curricula activities need to be lessoned. Not everyone is going to star academically but no-one performs well on lack of sleep.
- Car Crazy: Do you spend more time in your car than anywhere else with your child? Are you constantly running the parental taxi from school to one activity, to another, to another? If the only ‘quality’ time you have with your kids is in between their appointments, you’re not having quality time with your child at all!
- Sad and Solemn: No-one is good at everything and the more activities a kid is involved in, the more opportunities there are to not do well and not live up to a standard, either their parents’ or their own. Signs of depression and anxiety include bad moods, being uncharacteristically quiet and withdrawal from social interactions.
- Koala kid: Is your child suddenly needy or has reverted to asking for help for tasks they have been independently doing for some months? How do they behave in social situations where there is no agenda? If they look for adults to guide them and find the freedom of free-time uncomfortable, it may be a sign that they need more down time. It’s actually crucial for their cognitive and social development.
If your child exhibits several of these signs, take some time to reassess their schedule. Communication is the key. ASK your child if they enjoy a certain activity or if they’d like a break from it. Just start by eliminating one activity per week. You’ll probably be grateful for the break yourself.
Coach and Director EMEA Business Development