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Too much of a good thing

Published on February 21, 2019 under Winter

Stepping on soap box

A minivan weaves through afternoon traffic. Theres a bumper sticker on the back that proclaims “mom’s taxi.”

A generation ago few children had as much organized activity in their lives as they do today. Most days consisted of attending school, playing in the yard or neighborhood, eating the evening meal, and preparing for school the next day. Some young children had a piano lesson, baseball practice, or ballet class one afternoon a week, but todays young children encounter a great variety of programming options.

While extra curricular activities can provide children an opportunity to learn important skills, some families today overdo it. Some kids have not just one extracurricular activity week, but maybe two a day! Some are involved in sports every season and also enrolled in dance class, music lessons, karate instruction, swimming lessons, and more.

These activities are also beginning at an earlier age. It’s not uncommon to hear three-year-olds discussing their busy schedules

Some children excel at such activities, but too much programming can have detrimental effects. It’s stressful to be rushed from one activity to the next. It is tiring to be in an organized program all day, or even for several hours, and then be taken to another class in the evening. Kids need time to play and relax in whatever ways they want.

We should ask ourselves several questions if we suspect over programming. Is this activity good for my child’s self-esteem? ( At 3-5 if someone is yelling at your child that does not promote healthy self-esteem. You would not expect it in our setting so why would you be OK with it in a sport? ) Is this something she is interested in and enjoys? ( or is this something that you enjoy the social interaction with other parents?) Is he overly tired? Does she exhibit behavior problems not previously present ? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be time to rethink the extracurricular schedule.

I would also add that children this age are too young to be in competitive sports program. ( Today the kids had a self initiated game of red rover. Within 5 minutes two children cried and one stomped off angry.) There is also no sport that’s going to scout them to be a pro at this age. Parents have to genuinely ask themselves why are they involving their child in the activity and what good is coming of it. There is no reason for toughening up littles at this age.

Stepping off soap box.

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