Do we succumb to the peer pressure of our child not doing enough activities while his/her friend does ballet, gymnastics, swimming, drama and piano? Is my child bored at home and watching too much television so I need to enroll him/her in activities? If I don’t put my child in all these classes how will he/she master it all and get into a good college?
These are just some of the thoughts that come to my mind on this subject of discussion with mothers. Although parents have their best intention at heart for their child while making these decisions, when is it too much and what are our children missing out on?
Firstly, we need to make sure as parents we are not choosing the activities for our child for selfish reasons: examples include, I wanted to be part of the soccer team and didn’t make it so my child has to play soccer or my child needs to be fluent in a foreign language so that he stands out in a college application. We need to sit with our child and talk about their strengths and interests and determine how much time we can devote to activities bearing their school schedule in mind. It is also important to make sure they have time to socialize for an academic child lacking social skills should not be the goal for any parent. We have to remember our children already go through enough social and academic pressures at school and need some downtime to relax and unwind.
As adults, to de-stress from our daily lives we read, watch television, listen to music and sometimes just sit in silence so why is it not acceptable for our child to be doing the same? There is so much to learn from simple activities like drawing, walking in the garden, meeting a friend, even watching the right television programs and playing appropriate educational games. We don’t need to be running around in various directions and missing family dinnertime in order to make it to an activity.
How do we know when our child is being overscheduled? Psychologists say to look out for signs of tiredness, loss of appetite, grades falling in school. Some children may even feel depressed and also may start losing friends. Just listen to your child carefully for we often are too busy listening to ourselves. Remember, everything in moderation.
Having two teenagers currently in high school, I came to the realization as time went by that there was no time to pursue all the activities and interests. It is of no benefit to be the jack-of-all-trades and master of none. As parents we owe it to our children to give them more than that – all we have to do is listen to them.