For children to grow into successful as adults, many parents think kids should be a part of numerous extracurricular activities. Perhaps we believe this abundance of activities will foster a sense of pride and accomplishment. However, is this excessive involvement in activities doing more harm than good?
How much is too much?
According to a study published in the journal “Sport, Education, and Society,” the demands of an extracurricular-heavy schedule are not only placing an unprecedented strain on families but also potentially harming children’s development and well-being.
The researchers interviewed 50 families of primary-aged children and found that 88% of the kids were involved in activities four to five days a week. These endeavours were the central focus of family life, especially in households with more than one child. Consequently, families spent less quality time together and children face emotional burnout.
The researchers from the journal “Sport, Education, and Society” were quick to warn parents of the potential negative impact of an over-stuffed schedule: “Raising awareness of this issue can help those parents who feel under pressure to invest in their children’s organized activities, and are concerned with the impact of such activities on their family, to have the confidence to plan a less hectic schedule for their children.”
Helping Your Child Find Balance
In order for extracurricular activities to do more good than harm, parents have to make sure family time takes precedence. Here are some ways you can help your child find a balance:
Let Kids be Kids
Make sure there is enough non-structured time for kids to express themselves in creative ways. This freedom allows children time for the joy of self-discovery. Adult-organized activities can restrict this natural inclination.
This is time for children to play with toys, be outside, or playing with friends and siblings. These unstructured activities allow children to learn critical skills they’ll use in their adult lives, such as problem solving and creative thinking.
Recognize the Importance of Family Time
As mentioned, the study found that too many kid activities lead to a major strain on family time. Other studies have shown the importance of family bonds to a child’s development and well-being. While you may initially feel hesitant in taking your child out of some of their activities, just remember the benefits of spending more time as a family.
Remember, family time is not just everyone under the same roof. Quality family time means playing a game, cooking dinner together, eating dinner together and doing activities as a family unit. This allows children to feel valued, but also allows them to be confident teens and adults.
For many adults, the idea of unplugging, even for a limited time, can be daunting. Creating time where devices aren’t welcome demonstrates that your current activity takes precedence over anything else, and when that activity is your kids, everyone wins.
Try setting your phone to airplane mode or using the do not disturb feature during dinner and important family events. It may take some self-control, but your children will thank you in the long run.
Talk to Your Child
Don’t decide which activities stay and which go without first getting input from your child. He or she should be able to help decide the activities that bring them the most benefits and joy.
Nowadays, kids and adults can find themselves juggling way too many responsibilities. It’s important for all of us to slow down, relax, and spend as much time as we can as a family. If you’re looking for an expert to help your family come together again, please reach out today.