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Tips for dads with over-scheduled kids

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 19-05-2007

We all want to make sure our kids have enough experiences so that they know where they can really shine. This in turn may provide the direction for a fulfilling life. Sometimes, however, in our zeal to show them new things, we either allow them or push them to take too much on at once. Here are a few warning signs that your child is overbooked and over-extended. 

  1. You find that you can’t find time on their schedule to spend time with them. If your son or daughter needs his or her own copy of Outlook, you may have a problem.
  2. His or her school grades are falling.
  3. Your child has a hard time entertaining himself on his own.
  4. Extracurricular activities start to overlap. For example, the basketball game is at the same time as the piano recital.
  5. Your child seems anxious, irritable or over-tired.

How to get your child off the treadmill? Here are a few suggestions.

  • First of all, don’t pull the plug all at once. It’s important for a child to know they need to follow through on their commitments. Look for natural breaks in the action to eliminate an activity.
  • Interview your child. What makes her excited? What does she really want to do in her spare time? A frank discussion may surprise you. You may find she does some things just to please you or because her friends do it. If you can find things that really make her shine, you’re on the right track.
  • Consider dividing her activities up in two groups. Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, the author of The Overscheduled Child, recommends diving activities in to “must do” and optional categories. Must do might include swimming classes at six or seven years old because you feel this is a swim safety skill that must be acquired. Once you have that list (and keep it short for any given season), allow your child to pick what goes into the optional pile, while keeping an eye on how many activities you have going on. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics in the January 2007 issue says that over-scheduling is most pronounced in the nine- to twelve-years age group but it can occur at any age. They suggest that, despite a trend toward pushing kids to do more to aid in their development, kids need more play and family time. As with adults, life-balance skills have to be learned and it might be time for a lesson.