Monday, March 14, 2011

Busy Kids

One of the things I notice more and more these days is how busy people are. Parents have their children involved in lots of extra-curricular activities--dance, football, piano lessons, Brownies, soccer, gymnastics, 4-H, Boy Scouts--the list is endless it would seem. There are so many wonderful things to choose from that afford your children with opportunities to learn teamwork, character, responsibility, work ethic, etc.

I think that all of this is very good. The concern I often have is the lack of balance in these kids' lives.

Kids often talk to me about how stressed they are. They talk about not having a lot of time to just relax between school, homework, and other activities. When I ask them what they would like to change, they say that they don't want to change anything. They really like all of the after school things they are doing. That is where parents come in.

Parents need to set limits on schedule and activities. Don't expect your child to find him/her own limits. They have lots of energy and literally want to do everything that comes along! Don't sign your kids up for something just because they "really want to do it!" Kids don't have the ability to predict the stress they will feel being so busy.

When you think about adding a new activity to your child's schedule, consider these things:

1) What does the overall schedule look like currently?
2) How will this new activity change the schedule?
3) What affect will this activity have on the family? How will it coordinate with other family member's activities?
4) Will the child have sufficient "down time" to just play and be a kid?
5) How will my child benefit from this activity?

I believe that kids need to be exploring different activities, but not all at one time. They are kids. Let them have time to just rest, play, and be kids. Teach them balance early, and it will be something that will go with them into adulthood.