by Julie M.
The amount of scheduled activity that children are involved in today has dramatically increased compared to past generations. Today’s norm in parenting seem to be focused on starting kids off early in organized activities or sport. This is leaving children tired and stressed from having to balance their scheduled activities along with everything else they have on their plate.
The many structured activities that children are signed up for has to come from some other aspect of their life such as family time or simply time having fun on their own. Family time is becoming less and less frequent. This jeopardizes the development of family bonds and signals to children that family is less important than their structured activity or sport. Some parents even think they are failing their child if they allow them to simply go off and have fun at some unstructured activity. The concept of having fun has now become a scheduled component for children with “fun activities” being included as part of their structured events. Children being told when to have fun will, tend to see it as less and less fun and eventually may look to drop out of such activities on the first opportunity they have.
Parents today are highly involved in their children’s lives to the point that their role has been dubbed “hyper parenting”. The intentions of “hyper parents” can sometimes become unclear as some parents start to see development as advancing their child. Parents need to have a better understanding of all aspects of child development before pushing children to higher and higher levels. Extreme training at a young age can increase the risk of physical and psychological issues later on. When children have not developed all of their muscle or bone mass, they can cause serious and long lasting damage from training to hard. Putting excessive pressures on children at young ages can also cause considerable psychological concerns throughout their development. Parents that push their children too hard can also create an environment where their children won’t even tell them how they truly feel as they already know what the parent expects. Children need to feel their opinion matters and they need to feel comfortable expressing it.
Parents need to understand there is such a thing as “too much”. While there are benefits from some structured activity, too much can have a negative effect on children and on child development. Children need time and personal space to support their positive development. They need to be able to choose their own activities, explore their own interests, and develop their own personality at their pace. There needs to be a balance between to their structured activities and other aspect of their lives. Parents just need to “slow down” and let their kids be kids more often. Their kids will most likely respond by developing into competent and well-rounded individuals.
Rosenfeld, A. (March 01, 2004). Harvard, Soccer and Over-Scheduled Families. Youth Studies Australia, 23, 1, 15-18.
Rosenfeld, A., & Wise, N. (April 01, 2001). The over-scheduled child: Avoiding the hyper-parenting trap. Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, 17, 4.