Thursday, September 4, 2014

Are You Over-Scheduled and Do You Over-Schedule Your Teens?

Do you feel over-scheduled? Overwhelmed? Too busy? Exhausted? We all feel that way from time to time. And we can be really bad examples for our kids by over-scheduling our lives to the hilt.

     We hear the above statements all the time.  But when kids and teens complain of being over-scheduled and overwhelmed, we should definitely pause to take a new look at our lives and re-prioritize them. Our kids are way too young to feel over-scheduled. And if we, as parents, teach them that it is okay, or worse, meritorious to be busy all the time, we can be setting them up for a life time of exhaustion and lack of success. Not only that but they will feel dissatisfied and stressed out all the time.

     That is not the way to bring up kids and teens who are happy and enjoying themselves. Instead, we should bring up healthy, fulfilled and happy kids and teens. But how can we stop our kids from being chronically over-scheduled? Here are a few tips to do so:

·         Don’t always compare your kids and teens to your friends kids and teens. Instead, treat your kids as unique individuals who can decide for themselves what they will and will not participate in.

·         Sit down and decide (with your teens and kids) what kinds of activities they would like to participate in.  A few ways to determine which activities they would really like to participate in is to list their likes and dislikes.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your teens or kids:

1.      What does your child enjoy? Does she enjoy playing sports? If so, what kind of sport?
2.      Does your child enjoy music or dancing? Again, be specific. What type of dancing or musical instruments does she enjoy?
3.      Does your child want to do extracurricular activities?  Or, are you pushing them to overdo it all the time.
4.      Does your child feel overwhelmed at school anyways? If so, make sure you don’t tack on even more stuff on for her.

·         Decide on trying ONE activity for a few months. Don’t commit your child or teen to years or months of activities. Just choose one for a limited time. Then talk to your teen again and discuss how things are going. Be honest—in fact, encourage your child or teen to be brutally honest. And if the activity isn’t something that she is truly enjoying, perhaps allow your child or teen to either try some other activity or not do anything.

·         Encourage your teen to have time for him/herself.

It is important for parents to remember that it isn’t always important for kids and teens to be part of many extracurricular activities. Sometimes, they should be encouraged to experiment with what they like and dislike, and let their intuition be their guide. How else will they develop their intuitions?

So, as parents, we have a responsibility not to push our kids or teens and over-schedule them. We should show them by example that it is okay to take some time out to rest and relax. We don’t want to overwhelm our kids from an early age and develop the wrong habits that can last a lifetime. We want to teach our kids to be their best, and if that means being at home and doing things that they really enjoy, than that’s okay too.

Irene S. Roth

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