Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Overscheduled Children
Countless parents across the United States and beyond are beginning to realize their child is overscheduled, overstructured, and simply too busy. Sadly, we have lost sight of the fact that childhood is a time for fun, socialization, and exploration. Parents far and wide are overburdening their kids with an excessive number of activities rather than letting them enjoy unstructured free time. Though some structure will certainly help your child, overscheduling has the potential to make his or her life quite miserable. Let’s take a quick look at the signs and symptoms of overscheduling children.
Your Child is Uncomfortable Doing Nothing
At first glance, this might seem like an odd sign as most parents want their child to be active, engaged with school/activities, and socially stimulated. However, there is some value in doing nothing. Take a moment to think about the extent to which your kids are inundated with information, homework, school activities, after school activities, etc. There comes the point at which it is all just too much. Every kid needs some time to unwind, put his or her brain on pause, kick back and relax while doing absolutely nothing. If you find your kids are unable to relax, it is time to reconsider their schedule and possibly remove one or two activities.
Your Child Complains of Fatigue
If your child looks tired all the time or complains of constant fatigue, it is a clear indication he or she is overscheduled. Kids need at least eight hours of sleep every single night. If your child’s schedule is busy to the point that he or she cannot enjoy restful sleep or simply does not have enough time to sleep for eight hours, it is time for a break. After all, what sense is there in living life when you are tired all the time? Reduce your child’s activities so he or she can get more rest, and life really will prove that much more enjoyable.
A Decline in Academic Performance
If your child participates in sports, sings in the choir, plays a musical instrument, and engages in other activities, there will be little time left for homework. As a result, his or her grades will decline. Though extracurricular activities are certainly important in the quest for college admission, nothing is more important than academic performance. Keep in mind, your child’s chances of landing a scholarship and admission to his or her university of choice hinge more on grades than anything else. When in doubt, reduce your child’s activities and obligations in favor of extra time for homework.
Physical and/or Mental Health Problems
Overscheduling has the potential to compromise your child’s physical and mental health. This is quite a depressing statement, yet it is completely true. If you are even slightly suspicious, your child’s physical or mental health problems are the result of an overloaded schedule, take immediate action by reducing his or her number of activities in favor of more downtime that allows for rest and recuperation. Pay close attention to your child’s eating habits. If your little one is eating more junk food than usual or overeating, it is a clue he or she is overstressed and needs more unstructured time.
Your Child is Not Having Fun
An excess of activities has the potential to make life less enjoyable. Your child might be much happier spending unstructured time with friends and family as opposed to rapidly transitioning from one activity to another on a regimented schedule. If your child does not smile or laugh with regularity, it is time to make some changes. This is your opportunity to replace boring activities with fun ones or simply pare back your child’s schedule so he or she can spend more time hanging out with friends, enjoying our society’s seemingly endless entertainment options and exploring new interests that have the potential to prove quite fulfilling (and fun!).
The moral of the story is to let your kid be a kid and have fun. Do not lose sight of the fact that your little one will eventually become a cog in our economic machine, working 40-50 hours a week. Allow your child to have some fun today, and you won’t look back with regret, wondering how much more your little one would have enjoyed life had he or she not been so busy. For more information on Northdale Christian Academy or to schedule a tour, please visit our about page.