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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Are Our Kids In Activity Overload?

Experts believe that we are pushing our children too hard by filling their every moment with activities. Many of our kids are going from soccer practice to music lessons, and then on to accelerated language classes. But, are we pushing them into activity overload?

What do experts say children need as it relates to playtime?
*The American Academy of Pediatrics states that what children need is more unstructured, good, old-fashioned playtime.
• Aids children with creativity
• Helps them discover their own passions and likes
• Helps children learn problem solving strategies
• Teaches them now to relate to other children/socialization skills
• Builds healthy development

How do we know if our children are experiencing activity overload?

• Physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches
• Child may be tired, restless or agitated
• Child may seem less interested in activities that were once important to them such as dance, piano, etc
• Grades may fall, or antisocial behaviors may appear such as lying, stealing, refusal to do chores
• Most importantly—children may experience BURNOUT if they don’t eat properly, get enough rest, and time to just “be a kid”

What are some important recommendations for parents?

• Are your children really enjoying what they are doing… watch to see if they are really happy vs. doing activities because they are meeting your expectations or as a means of impression management (to impress others—my child does this & that, etc)
• Narrow down extracurricular activities (what works for kids and parents). Create a manageable, reasonable schedule. Remember that kids need together time with parents for family dinners, family outings, etc.
• Make unstructured time a priority—unstructured does not mean unproductive
• Is this your expectation or something your child really wants to do? Remember the focus should be on your child’s healthy development.

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