Ballet, piano, flute, soccer, forensics, German lessons, computer club, sleepovers, and church school. Basketball, drama club, newspaper, scouts, guitar lessons, and church school. Having two kids who are heavily scheduled in all these activities can cause any parent to feel like a taxi driver. If you add an extra child, an extra activity, or your own career and activities, you will surpass overinvolvement to superinvolvement. Your children's excessive parti-cipation in activities may interfere with family togetherness, your children's independence and imagination, and everyone's sanity. Furthermore, your children's excess activities may cause them to feel dependent on entertainment and overstimulation.
Involvement in extracurricular activities is an import-ant key to developing interests and self-confidence in your children. When they're of preschool and primary age, parents can choose their children's activities, but small children need only a few activities and much time for play. As children mature, they should have choices regarding activities. That may mean that you either direct unwilling explorers to pick at least one sport to participate in or that you merely suggest a particular sport. It may also mean that you say "no" to ice hockey practice at 10 p.m., even though that's the only time the kids can have use of the ice. Your children may feel temporarily crushed, but you can remind them that parents need a life too.
High school students either have always been or have never been involved in extracurricular activities. Some were but aren't anymore. If they have always been involved, provided they're managing their balancing act, you need only to observe and encourage them. It's when their health or schoolwork suffers that a gentle reminder to cut out some activities may be absolutely necessary. If teenagers aren't involved, convince them to try a few school activities. Church, synagogue, and recreational centers offer additional alternatives. If nothing else works, remind them that some activities are almost mandatory for their college applications.
By high school, part-time jobs offer important learning experiences and confidence-building opportunities; however, teachers advise that teens work no more than 10 hours per week. Although businesses may encourage children to work more hours, it's important that learning remains the highest priority for teens. The extra dollars earned in high school may prevent them from earning higher salaries for the rest of their life.
- Get kids involved in some activities.
- Encourgage children to make choices.
- Consider your own time limitations.
- Some time without activities stimulates imagination and independence.
2010 by Sylvia B. Rimm. All rights reserved. This publication, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.