By Michelle Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
In today’s world, kids have more commitments than ever before. Sporting events, play practice and other events both after school and weekends can keep kids on the run from the moment they get up to the moment they lie their heads down at night. Although it may seem kids are just keeping up with everyone else’s schedule, this constant on- the- go lifestyle can be a hindrance to a child’s overall wellbeing. But how do you know a kid’s schedule is overpacked?
Here are 7 signs your kid might be overscheduled:
1.Your Child Shows Signs of Anxiety
Anxiety can manifest as many symptoms: nervous energy, nausea, lack of concentration, irritability and mood swings, among others. Kids can suffer from anxiety and not realize the impact these symptoms have on their central nervous system. Kids that never get a chance to calm down and relax may grow up to have significant emotional and psychological problems.
Instead of overscheduling kids, let them pick a couple of activities they are good at, one that tunnels their passions rather than just a spontaneous whim. Furthermore, teach kids coping strategies to help them handle their anxious thoughts. For example, help your children choose verses from the Bible that help them know what to do when they become anxious.
Matthew 6:26: “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
2. Your Child Has Misplaced Priorities
Kids that are overscheduled can become obsessed with all the fun activities they do after school, that sometimes they neglect the schoolwork they have to do during school. Homework suffers, grades dip and kids who need to work hard at school instead take it easy. There’s nothing wrong with your kids doing other activities, but their priority must be school, otherwise they will only feel as though fun is to be valued.
Help kids prioritize effectively by putting fun in its proper place. Fun has its place in a well-balanced life but how does a child understand how to regulate the amount of fun versus how much to work unless they see it modeled in the lives of their parents? Take time to have fun but not until required work is done.
3. Your Child Is a Perfectionist
While sports performance is important for those who commit to being part of a team, kids that are overscheduled don’t draw proper boundaries when it comes to doing their best versus not being so hard on themselves. Additionally, adults who overschedule kids have a warped view of time; they believe a child’s success hinders on whether or not every minute of that child’s life is spent on doing activities that will teach them a new skill they can use later on in life. Kids who are trained by coaches for a large part of their time learn to earn the approval of authority figures. This does not bode well for overscheduled kids, especially those that are Christians. Christians who follow a God who loves His children no matter what, will eventually have a tough time understanding God’s unconditional, unmerited favor.
Help overscheduled kids understand that not everything in life has to be earned or perfect. Throw the ball around with the ultimate goal to just spend time together. Spending time together with no other goal than just being together will help them understand that their value is not based on whether every minute of their lives is scheduled but rather whether or not their time is spent being a good human.
4. Your Child Is Overly Fatigued
Kids that run around from event to event often need time to unwind at the end of the day. If kids don’t get rest, their bodies will let them know. Kids become overly tired, struggling to get proper physical rest because their brains are constantly being overworked. Studies have shown that people who spend fifteen minutes doing nothing, sleep better at night and have better concentration.
Spend a few minutes, eyes closed, mind cleared. If this is difficult to do, practice it. Set a timer starting at five minutes and build onto it increments of one minute each until it becomes a habit. Additionally, send your kids to bed early so they can catch up on much needed rest. Overscheduling can lead to overworked, stressed out kids. Sleep helps recalibrate them.
5. Your Child Suffers from Frequent Illnesses
Kids that internalize stress compromise their immune systems. Colds, headaches, etc. are just a sample of what your kid can be dealing with physically to cope with the emotional stress of never getting a chance to just do nothing. Although it seems counterintuitive to today’s culture, letting your kids be free to be kids can actually combat illness and add years of health to their lives.
6. You Child Is Hesitant to Attend Activities
This may see obvious, but if a child is complaining they don’t want to go the various activities they are scheduled for, it can be a sign they are feeling burned out. Instead of allowing kids to do several activities in one season, limit them to just one. Figure out your kid’s passion and direct them to take activities that will sharpen their skills.
7. Your Child Complains about Being Bored
When kids are overstimulated, they don’t know what to do with themselves once they actually have nothing to do. When kids find themselves complaining about needing something to do on the rare occasions when they have nothing, they may be overscheduled. Kids will chase after what is modeled for them. As adults, when we have nothing to do, do we fill our time staring at our phones or other devices? Seek to spend time just being in God’s presence for quiet time with him and show kids what a free life looks like.
Although society may dictate overscheduling as the norm, we certainly can choose to live a different life. Allow kids to pick one or two activities per year based on their passions. This, along with scheduling time to do nothing and teaching your kids coping mechanisms to deal with the physical manifestations of symptoms of overscheduling, will help turn an overscheduled kid to one who achieves balance in that aspect – and ultimately every aspect—of their lives.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. She is a regular contributor for ibelieve.com and crosswalk.com and is a movie reviewer for Movieguide Magazine. She also is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia and spending time with her family and her crazy dog, Cookie. For more info, please visit her website.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/LeManna