As parents, all we want is what’s best for our kiddo’s.
It seems that we are turning into a society of overachieving parental units giving into peer pressure from other parents around the block. It is getting very normal for a child to be involved in two, three and sometimes four different activities.
I even know of a 6-year-old girl that is dragged to 6 different activities (soccer,piano,martial arts, kumon, dance, art class) by an overachieving mother thinking she is doing her child good.
You have to ask yourself one question?
Do you have that many activities that you do for yourself each week?
The goal anymore, is not just to be involved and enjoy the activities but the pressure is to excel in all of them. This type of pressure can create a state of anxiety for the child which causes unhealthy mental symptoms that occur and can last a lifetime.
A very real concern is the child’s regard to family values. If the child does not get to see and spend time with their family, they can grow up not appreciating the importance of the family unit.
A child may also get the sense that their involvement and performance are a higher priority than they are giving them low self-esteem. This may not only affect them throughout childhood, but even into adulthood should they become parents.
The priority of Family needs to be made a priority by parents. Would you prefer to have ribbons and trophies, or a close, healthy relationship with your child?
For starters, let’s look at why we tend to over-commit our children:
1. We feel we need to fill up our children’s schedule so they aren’t just sitting home watching television or playing video games.
2. We want to give our children what they want, like when they beg to take soccer with their friends.
3. We try to keep up with other ‘super-parents’ who boast and brag about all the activities their children are involved in.
Next, let’s consider warning signs that your child may be over-committed:
- Your child looks and acts tired. They are physically exhausted.
- Your child’s grades are dropping. They are intellectually exhausted.
- Your child has mood swings. They are emotionally exhausted.
- Your child has anxiety. They are socially exhausted.
- Does your child drag themselves to the car getting ready for each activity?
- Does your child often complete their homework, study, and/or eat dinner in the car because they don’t have any other time to do it?
- Do you want your child more involved in these activities than they want to be?
These warning signs should be taken very seriously. Let’s face it, they are not equipped with the mindset to push through so much adversity.
So, what do you do when you see these warning signs?
Although your intentions are good when you try to put your child in a variety of activities, there are more productive measures you can take for the proper growth, development, and happiness in your child’s life:
- Take control. Put your foot down and limit extra-curricular activities. Don’t give in to pressure from your child or other parents.
- Survey. Pay close attention to the overall value of the activities, including the experience of the facilitators. Is the activity highly-structured with well-trained people? Or is the activity something conducted with little structure and people who have little or no experience?
- Prioritize. Decide which activities have the highest VALUE when it comes to helping your child develop physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.
- Follow-through. Once you decide which activities are best for your child, be sure to commit and stay engaged.
- Let your child be a kid – give them space to just have fun without any goal.
- Assess that you are not living through your kids – they need to be able to develop their own interests.
How Not to have an over committed kid.
Before, committing to another activity take these questions into consideration.
- Will this take more time?
Look at your outcome: will the activity require practices during the week plus the games or tournaments on the weekends? How long is the season, and when will it end? Will this activity take the majority of our weekends?
- How much time will be left for our family?
You must decide how much family time you want together, maybe it’s important that you eat dinner together every night, will this activity fall during that time? Will there be enough room to relax together?
Dealing with an over-committed child is difficult. The solutions in this article are simple, but not easy. Examining your child’s activities with respect to your goals will help you make the right decisions that will help bring more balance and happiness to your child’s life and to yours.