We live in a society where perceptions drive parents to facilitate their children’s participation in activities before considering whether or not those activities create a balanced lifestyle. Extracurricular involvement has been found to dominate family life, especially for families with more than one child, leading to spending less quality time together not to mention a depletion of money and energy.
A 2018 study published in the Taylor & Francis journal Sport, Education and Society suggests that parents should be mindful of how much time their children are spending in extracurricular activities, such as music lessons and sports clubs. The findings, published in the journal Sport, Education and Society, made clear the pressing social demand for kids to be highly involved in organized activities and how this demand places unprecedented strain on families that could potentially affect the children’s development and well-being.
President and CEO of Lightbridge Academy Gigi Schewikert recently shared her experience when a New Jersey private school hosted a talk called “The Diary of a School-Age Burnout.” The talk was about kids being burned and how to avoid that.
It’s about raising children to be well-rounded while at the same time not forcing them to keep doing things they’re not interested in. This type of pressure to please or perform often elicits the opposite response. While parents have good intentions in encouraging their child’s development through different extracurricular activities, it is also important that children are able to relax and enjoy their childhood. According to Parenting Science, free play—or time spent outside of structured activities—is foundational to healthy cognitive development.
Take it one step at a time. You can find balance by only signing up for activities that interest your child. You might need to try a few introductory classes to find the right fit. You can also expect their interests to change as they have different experiences and develop their own preferences and talents. One child many be a guitarist, the other a hockey player but neither of them may go to the Olympics or to college on a performing arts scholarship—and that’s alright. It’s ok for children to pick activities because they enjoy it and they do not necessarily have to be top performers.
An unhealthy balance of activities can often do more harm than good. It might actually be stifling their ability to focus or creating unnecessary anxiety. By encouraging curiosity and aligning your child’s extracurricular activities with their individual passions, you will enable your child to develop freely with less resistance while perhaps discovering their unique talents.