Help for Overscheduled Kids!

If you or 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 from a few activities. Everyone will benefit.

How Many Extra Activities Are Enough?
Stress-free, simple activities and play groups are great for preschoolers. They are particularly beneficial for kids who don't spend much time with other children, but there is no need to overdo this. 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 other classes. If they complain about going but obviously enjoy themselves -- they are all smiles after the class, they chat happily about the other kids -- encourage them to continue. And be there to cheer them on!

Some youngsters find juggling homework and other extra activities stressful. If your child has trouble completing assignments or getting to bed on time because of school work, consider dropping some of the extra-curriculars.

How Can You Tell When This Is Too Much?
Look for signs of stress. These include chronic fatigue, disrupted sleeping and eating patterns, drops in grades, and disinterest in friends and family events. If your son or daughter starts getting headaches or stomach aches, talk to a doctor but don't rule out stress, either,

Another sure-fire indicator that your child is over-programmed is if she flatly refuses to participate or develops devious avoidance tactics. This may happen now and again, but if it becomes regular and if the child is clearly miserable when forced to go, consider letting him drop the class or sport.

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 computer games. They also worry the children will never develop outside interests.

As a parent, you can set limits on television watching and screen 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!

The Importance of Family
Child experts agree that a sense of family and of belonging is important to healthy development. This can be manifested in any number of ways: family meals, weekend excursions, family projects, and family rituals.

If all the children in one family are involved in radically different outside activities, the family may suffer from overall burnout. Limit each child to one or two activities to promote family harmony.

In almost every instance, family time is never wasted time. Let your children choose their activities, but keep a close eye for signs of overload. Make time spent with the family a priority. No one will suffer from this!