Signs you may be over-scheduling your child

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

(KAIT) - It's a problem that many parents may not even notice, and one they could be causing.

With so many activities to choose from some children are simply over-scheduled.

It's a problem child psychologist Dr. Jessica Pipkin sees quite often.

"They want their child to have these great experiences, to succeed, to be a winner, to have the opportunity to lose as well," she said.  "I think the motivation behind it is positive, but I think they just lose sight."

She said between school, homework, and extracurricular activities kids can be overbooked.

"These extracurriculars are great, but all in moderation," she said.  "Kids need that free time and that open time, just as much and more."

She said free time allows children to gain skills that are not always found in regulated activities.

"Any parent will identify with the 'I'm bored' statement," she said.  "There seems to be an issue where kids cannot tolerate being bored anymore."

Pipkin said that's because children's time is too regulated and scheduled.

"Kids are not as comfortable with free range play anymore," she said.  "Free time is crucial because it teaches problem-solving, independence skills and creativity."

She said, in some cases, after-school activities could also interfere with homework.

One Region 8 teacher says seeing over-scheduled kids in her class has altered her way of teaching.

"I actually read this book called The Homework Myth," said Kelli Cochran, a science teacher at Nettleton Intermediate.  "It said that if you can possibly make it classwork instead of homework you have a better percent of students that will turn in work."

Some of Cochran's students now work on homework during school hours.

"I have gotten 90 to 100 percent return on papers," she said.

However, Cochran says not all teachers can do this because some subjects need to send work home.

Pipkin said solutions like this are good but the key to success in all areas is balance.

She advises to watch your child to see how they are handling their workload.

"You have to watch for signs that this is not right for your child," she said.

It is also imperative to watch for warning signs that your child is over-scheduled.

"They may be throwing tantrums, becoming very sullen when it's time to go to an activity, becoming really sleepy, unable to concentrate at school," she said. "You have to watch for your child to show you that this is not right for them."

Pipkin says asking your child what activity they like and keeping open communication is key.

"If you see your child is a little burned out maybe it's time to pull back," she said, adding there is no perfect number on how many activities kids should take on, but she often suggests starting with one.

"You can only overlap so many things, and I think there is something to be said for focusing in on one, maybe two things," she said.

Pipkin says this allows kids to find their talent and recognize where their skill lies.

"I think that's more important than the fact that I do 15 things, to know that I do these one or two things really well," she said.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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