3 Ways Over-scheduling Can Hurt Your Kids

In this day and age, parents get a lot of pressure. In order to do their job right, their kid has to end up at Harvard, become a famous scientist, and change the world — or at the very least be high school valedictorian! And all the while, parents are also supposed to somehow mix in the right amount of love and support while simultaneously pushing their kids to succeed.

But what if children today don’t need that extra push? What if they don’t need parents urging them to practice violin three hours a day, take all the AP classes available, and start a new club promoting community service?

While extracurricular involvement can have a lot of benefits, parents should avoid excessive pressure and time commitments in order to avoid a few unfortunate consequences.

1. Harms mental health

Being involved in activities, developing talents, and learning to be part of a team can do a lot of good for a child’s self-esteem. But if activities are taken to an extreme, it can actually end up causing harm instead, especially for a child’s mental health.

Daniel E. Harmon, author of Frequently Asked Questions about Overscheduling and Stress, explains, “When you try to cram it all in, day after day, high stress can result” (1). Not only this, but research shows that more time spent in activities is directly related to higher levels of anxiety (2).

2. Decreases interest

As kids spend their early years going to hours of soccer practice, dance competitions, and more, by the time they become teenagers they simply start to burn out.

When parents structure too much of a child’s time, kids can have a hard time maintaining interest and learning how to entertain themselves.

Professor David Elkind explains that “kids are bored from these once-beloved activities because it’s no longer fun for them. (3)”

3. Weakens family relationships

When too much of a child’s day is taken up by homework and sport practice, they miss out on important family bonding time.

Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, author of The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper Parenting Trap, says that having unscheduled family time is an important part of building relationships (4). This allows kids and parents to really get to know each other in a way they otherwise wouldn’t.

Striking a Balance

Parents may feel like they have to push their children to succeed. But cramming your child’s life full of activities really isn’t the mark of a good parent. In fact, too much pressure and involvement in extracurriculars can lead to stress, boredom, and weaker relationships.

If you really want your kids to succeed, work to find a balance. Let them choose activities that interest them while still preserving some all-important unscheduled time. Don’t let the pressure get to you, and don’t pass on the pressure to them. Your kids will thank you for it.

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Picture from https://pixabay.com/en/boy-facepalm-child-youth-666803/

References

1. Harmon, D. E. (2010). Frequently asked questions about overscheduling and stress. New York, NY: Rosen.

2. Melman, S., Little, S. G., & Alkin-Little, K. A. (2007). Adolescent overscheduling: The relationship between levels of participation in scheduled activities and self-reported clinical symptomology. The High School Journal, 90(3), 18-30. Retrieved from https://muse.jhu.edu/article/211688/summary

3. Kirchheimer, S. (n.d.). Overscheduled child may lead to a bored teen. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/overscheduled-child-may-lead-to-bored-teen#2

4. Mason, K. C. (2015, July 2). The downside of no downtime for kids. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/whats-conflicted-parent-scheduling-childs-summer/

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