With the best of intentions, we shuttle our children to church, ballet lessons, football games and more. Then as our children get older and are in high school, they often add the responsibilities of school clubs and jobs. We strongly believe they should be involved in extra curricular activities. Our goal is to create happy, well adjusted adults, by exposing our children to as many activities as possible. But when we stop and think about it, are we really doing our children a favor? As parents, we need to know when to stop and take a look at our children to see if they are suffering from burnout. Here are some clues that might signal that we need to stop and help our child slow down his life.
1) Grades are dropping. As a teacher, I often notice that a student’s grades being dropping, and I will call the parent to make contact and figure out why the grades are worse. Often times a parent will advise me that their child is involved in too many extra curricular activities and simply does not have time to study. Also, when a child is stressed out, they can not think as clearly and their grades will begin to drop.
2) Needing more sleep. If your child suddenly seems to need more sleep, and often takes naps on the weekend, this could be a clue that you need to slow his activities down. My oldest started sleeping on weekends during the days, when he was involved in two sports at one time. This could be a clue that your child is overstressed from too many activities.
3) Grouchy. If your child is usually easy to get along with and suddenly become irritable, it could be a clue that some extra curricular activities need to go. Some children will start to shed tears if they are overstressed. My middle child started doing this one year and I realized that he was involved in too may extra curricular activities
4) Depression. Children are naturally people pleasers, no matter what psychologists say. They don’t want to disappoint their parents, and sometimes they are harder on themselves than we are on them. Often times children will become depressed when too much is placed on them. Japan has one of the highest teen suicide rates, and it can be directly linked to the pressures that parents place on their children. Children also want to succeed and if they fail at something, are hardest on themselves. Depression could be a clue that your child is involved in too may extra curricular activities.
5) If you can’t drive the kids to all of their activities and have to rely on carpools. This one applies to the parents, but I have personally “been there and done that.” If you have to rely on someone else to help you get all of your children to their extra curricular activities, your child might be over involved
Both of my sons were heavily involved in sports as children. One year they played baseball, football, and basketball. When soccer season came around, they wanted to play soccer too. I advised them that we needed to slow it down a bit, and concentrate on what really mattered, and that was family time and grades. parents need to set their foot down and decided what activities their children should drop. After all,as parents, we are in charge