Stressed Out Kids? Slow Down!

If you think your kids are stressed from overscheduling, help is at hand. Slowing down is good for the whole family!

By FamilyTime


If you sense your children are feeling the burden of too much structured time and not enough down time, think about pulling back. Everyone will benefit.

Child-Friendly Down Time
The secret to a stress-free child is balance. Encourage any interest your child might have — be it stamp collecting, swimming, or playing the violin. But also underscore the importance of family activities.

Children under age seven benefit enormously from imaginative play. This is how they learn creative thinking and problem solving.

Because children are as different from each other as adults are, as they get older some need more down time than others. This could be reading or hanging out with friends; for others it could be pursuing a hobby or playing with younger siblings.

Some parents fear that if they let their children back out of planned activities they will spend all their time watching television or playing mindless video games. They also worry the children will never develop outside interests.

As a parent, you can set limits on television watching and computer time.

As children grow, their interests become apparent. Nurture these as they appear, and learn to separate your goals and aspirations from your child's!

How Many Extra Activities Are Enough?
Stress-free, simple activities and play groups are great for preschoolers, particularly those kids who don't spend much time with other children. Just one or two activities a week is all a youngster needs — and both you and the child should truly enjoy the experience.

Older children benefit from organized sports, music lessons, and organized groups. They might complain about going but if they are all smiles after the class or practice, encourage them to continue.

Don't neglect your parental commitment. Be there to cheer on the team or to applaud at the piano recital.

When Is Too Much Too Much? 
A sure-fire indicator that your child is over-programmed is if she flatly refuses to participate or develops devious avoidance tactics. Let her make the decision to quit.

If this happens, don't let your child feel like a failure for making his life a little easier and more balanced.

As kids grow up, they change. What might have seemed like the ideal number of activities one year may not be right the next. Your son or daughter may decide to tackle new challenges as they grow, ones that you fear will be too much. 

Keep an eye on how your children react to their schedules through the years, knowing that the number of activies will wax and wane. The goal is a happy, active kid who gets done what needs doing (homework, practice, and so forth) and still has a smile on his face at the end of the day!