For their children to succeed as adults, many parents think they’ve got to be involved in numerous extracurricular activities. Perhaps we believe this abundance of activities will foster a sense of pride and accomplishment. But is this excessive involvement in activities doing more harm than good? Todays’ children are more overscheduled than ever before, leaving them very little time for unstructured free time.
According to a study published in the journal “Sport, Education, and Society,” the social 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 extracurricular activities four to five days a week. These activities were the central focus of family life, especially in households with more than one child. As a consequence, families were spending less quality time together and children were exhausted.
The researchers from the journal “Sport, Education, and Society” were quick to warn parents of the potential negative impact of an over-stuffed school 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 a 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.
Recognize the Importance of Family Time
As I 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.
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 to me today. Online counseling is also available for families.