Overscheduling Children Can Be Harmful
Parents want to do the right thing. When their kids are real young the parents look for opportunities for them to learn things. Many times a child is signed up for sports and lessons. No harm no foul.
As the child moves along in age from their soccer lessons and games, dance recitals and practice, baseball and softball all summer long, and other activities including piano and voice lessons, they begin to feel a bit burnt out and overscheduled.
There Are Benefits to Being Active
Let’s get one thing out in the open. Extracurricular activities have plenty of benefits. They learn discipline and how to get along with others. Team building skills increase and skills that can enhance their future schooling and careers increase.
Societal tests have shown they may increase test scores, improve academic achievement and help in education thoughout their life in order to earn a degree and possibly reach a higher income.
Those are all good.
However, involvement to the point of being overscheduled can have unfortunate consequences. Time commitments as they get older can be harmful to their mental health. This is where the activity has taken it to the extreme level of constant practices and performances not leaving time for a kid to just be a kid.
When you try to cram it all in, day after day, high stress can result. Not only this, but research shows that more time spent in activities is directly related to higher levels of anxiety.
Hours upon hours of practice and competitions from the early years of childhood to teenager can make for burn out through overscheduling. Sure, your child makes friends through constantly attending the same practices year after year. That is fine but watch kids sit around outside of that period and they are wanting so much more from those friendships.
When parents structure the time of their child, kids have a hard time learning how to entertain themselves. We talked about specialization of sports in an earlier article at KnupSports.
The family bonding time becomes weakened. The child’s day is used doing homework and practicing. They may be in another room but it is not the time they need. At the very least, some parents require a minimum of one meal a day with everyone in attendance.
This bonding time is a prerequisite for a child to really learn to know their siblings and parents and is irreplaceable in their growth.
Indicators such as stress, boredom, and the unintended consequence of weakening family relationship could come parents unintentionally pushing their children to succeed. Cramming activities can do more harm than good. Look for a balance in the family.
Let them choose their activitites or not to participate while allowing time for other things in the family balance. Parents can harm their children unintentionally thorugh overscheduling. Don’t pressure them and talk about their schedules often.
“The evidence shows that what makes sports really fun for kids is trying hard, making progress, being a good sport, experiencing positive coaching,”
Talk to your kids about their involvement. Ask them things concerning time spent at practices and performances. Don’t take a shrug of the shoulder or a quick one or two word answer from them to fully illustrate their feelings. Ask some deeper questions and build a relationship of trust in a meaningful, level-headed conversation with them.
Lastly, remember all may be fine and don’t become a psychologist and expect that every child has deep seeded issues with youth sports. There is a fine line between those that truly want to be there on their own and those that expect that is what their parents want.