5 Signs your kids may have too many activities

By Susan Pohorski

We want our kids to have a variety of experiences and provide them with opportunities to explore their interests and abilities. So we enroll them in music lessons, sports, scouting and other extra curricular activities. But when does this become too much?

Yes, there are benefits to team sports like exercise, learning sportsmanship and self-discipline. However, if the sports schedule is too demanding the child may suffer.

Each child is different and has different levels of tolerance. Forty-one percent of 882 children ages 9-13 surveyed in a recent KidsHealth poll said they feel stressed either most of the time or always because they have too much to do. And more than three-quarters of those surveyed said that they wished they had more free time.

Here are some signs your child may have too much on their plate:

  • He/she can’t keep up with schoolwork and grades begin to slide downward. He/she may love swimming or dance, but if he/she doesn’t have time or is too tired to do homework…something has to give.
  • He/she begins to show signs of stress like headaches, stomachaches or lack of sleep. Is your child complaining of any of these symptoms?
  • You are so busy taking your kids to their activities that you don’t have time for the family to experience things together or hangout. When was the last time you had a family dinner or played a board game together? Do you enjoy going boating or hiking together?
  • You are so busy with children’s activities you don’t have time alone with your spouse/partner to nurture your relationship. Children need to feel secure and they need to see their parents’ relationship is secure. Don’t sacrifice your relationship for your children’s activities. It is not worth that. Schedule a date night soon.
  • He/she doesn’t have time to build friendships outside of the activities. Relationship skills are more important than soccer skills. Unstructured free play has many benefits for children.

Remember your parents saying you shouldn’t do something just because “everyone else is doing it?” That applies to parents too. Don’t put your child in a sport or other extra-curricular activity because all the other families do. Ask yourself and your child, “Why?” before signing up for anything. Know your child’s limits. Some thrive on activities, others need quiet time alone.

Articles about kids and stress:

Experts: Despite their energy, kids still at risk of burnout from CNN

Identifying signs of stress in children and teens from the American Psychological Association

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