Have you ever seen a harried-looking mother racing through the grocery store with a toddler in a tutu, a child in soccer gear and a five-year-old carrying a pair of skates?
Have you ever been that harried looking mother?
I remember going to a new friend’s house when my son was young and being shocked at the amount of “centers” she had set up for her baby. Her house was full of activities to stimulate and engage her child. It was so overwhelming that the first thing I said was, “when does she sleep?”
Parents today feel pressure to offer their kids enriching opportunities to learn through sports, art and music. There is no shortage of activities for young children…check out any community center brochure and you will see everything from puppet-making to ukulele classes for preschoolers. Is it all necessary?
We want our children to grow up to be intelligent, healthy and talented. But when kids are overscheduled they miss out on one of the biggest benefits of childhood… just getting to be a kid! Older children come up with their best, most creative ideas when they’re bored and have exhausted all other options. Young children also need unscheduled time to play quietly and use their imagination.
This doesn’t mean you should plunk your child down in front of a TV instead of signing her up for finger painting classes. It means creating a healthy balance.
My rule of thumb is one extracurricular activity at a time. They have to choose carefully because I don’t allow my kids to quit after one or two sessions. They stick it out until it’s finished before they can try something else. Children may want to give up when they feel they aren’t good at something. But they need to work through this and may discover that they like it as they get better. This is a great step to helping children gain confidence.
The one-activity rule is an great way to preserve family time, especially if you have more than one child. Spending half your life driving children to and from activities can be exhausting for everyone.
Some parents think the more things they sign their kid up for, the better job they’re doing as parents. The truth is, giving kids quiet time to figure out who they are while they’re young will help them become stronger, more focused adults!
Oh, and like I mentioned at the start of this e-mail, you can currently get instant access to Kids:The Manual at a pretty nice discount by clicking this link. You’ll get how-to videos, books, reward systems, and much more!
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