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How Overscheduling Prevents Skill Development
Summary of Book Excerpt –page 61-62
The parents we encounter every day in our practices are caring, conscientious, and thoughtful. They want to protect their children from negative experiences and to provide all the resources available for them to be happy. These are admirable qualities. The challenge is knowing how much is enough, and how much is too much, particularly as this relates to the child’s social life. Most parents know when their kids’ schedules are too full, but there is a lot of pressure on parents to make sure their kids don’t miss out. The combination of the pressure to keep kids ahead of the pack and the abundance of programs available makes it so difficult to resist the pull to overschedule them.
We frequently see two consequences to the overscheduled phenomenon. First, children and teens regularly communicate to us that they are stressed out and need time off. They very often say that there are too many activities in their schedule and that they have no time to “just veg out.” They tell us that whenever they are trying to relax, their parents ask them about whether they should be doing homework or practicing music or a sport instead. This makes them feel guilty or defensive, which defeats the purpose of having some time off.
The second consequence of being overscheduled is that many kids and teens do not learn how to fill time on their own, so they expect their parents to continuously structure their schedule. If there is a day with some unstructured time, they may bombard their parents with questions about what they will do that day. Alternately, they turn to an electronic device and get lost in the time warp of YouTube and monitoring the activities of their peers on social media.
What many parents don’t realize is the essential and valuable experiences children get when they have electronics free unstructured time to themselves. When adults provide the structure for their schedule, children have no need to make decisions about how to plan their day, solve a problem, manage their time, prioritize activities, and so on. Furthermore, when adults are there to guide their daily activities, it takes away the opportunity for children to make the mistake of poorly managing their time and, therefore, their opportunity to figure out a solution and learn from it. When kids need to figure out what to do with unstructured time they also learn to tolerate unexpected changes in their plans, which is an invaluable lesson. They may have an idea about what they want to do with that time, but many times it won’t go exactly as planned. That requires flexibility, problem solving, and tolerance. When kids are overscheduled, they miss out on those valuable experiences
As psychologists, we have never worked with a young adult who was struggling because he or she didn’t play enough sports, learn enough musical pieces, or speak enough languages. However, we have worked with many who never learned how to tolerate unexpected challenges, develop the confidence to solve problems on their own, or communicate with people they disagree witth. Their parents wonder why they are not taking on more responsibility and being more independent. The answer is simple: they never learned how.
1. Listen to Your Kids
First and foremost, listen to your kids. If you are hearing your child say things like, “I’m tired”, “I don’t want to go”, and “I’m burned out” there is a chance that they are overscheduled.
3. Don’t Say “Yes” to Everything
This is important for both parents and kids to know. There are many great things for children and teens to sign up for, but they can’t do them all. Prioritize the child’s favorite things and family commitments. Then add only as free time allows. Remember that kids don’t typically have the foresight to consider all of the activities they may be agreeing to do. Sign-ups are often several months ahead of time. Therefore, if you just ask if they would like to do something, they may say “Yes” because it sounds great, but not think of the other things they are already committed to at the time. Parents need to monitor that closely.
4. Support Your Child in Organizing Activities with Friends
Organizing activities with friends is a great way for children and teens to practice planning, communication, goal-setting, and organization. These are essential skills to develop. Therefore, parents should support them whenever possible.
Putting It All Together: Parents feel pressure from very early on to provide their children with as many advantages as possible. They don’t want their kids to miss out on something they think will be “good” for them. However, as much as we fight it, theree is a limit to the number of hours in a week. When kids are overscheduled they miss out on practicing the essential skills of planning, organizing, prioritizing, decision making, and communication that are necessary when their parents are no longer there to manage their time.
Teaching Kids to Think: Raising Confident, Independent, and Thoughtful Children in an Age of Instant Gratification
Darlene Sweetland, Ph.D. and Ron Stolberg Ph.D.
March 3, 2015 ISBN: 9781492602750$14.99, Trade Paperback
Why Do Kids These Days Expect Everything to be Given to Them?
Today’s kids don’t know how to read a map. They can Google the answer to any question at lightning speed. If a teen forgets his homework, a quick call to mom or dad has it hand-delivered in minutes. Fueled by the rapid pace of technology, the Instant Gratification Generation not only expects immediate solutions to problems—they’re more dependent than ever on adults. Today’s kids are being denied opportunities to make mistakes, and more importantly, to learn from them. They are being taught not to think.
In Teaching Kids to Think, Dr. Darlene Sweetland and Dr. Ron Stolberg offer insight into the social, emotional, and neurological challenges unique to this generation. They identify the five parent traps that cause adults to unknowingly increase their children’s need for instant gratification, and offer practical tips and easy-to-implement solutions to address topics relevant to children of all ages.
A must-read for parents and educators, Teaching Kids to Think will help you understand where this sense of entitlement comes from—and how to turn it around in order to raise children who are confident, independent, and thoughtful.
Clinical psychologists and international speakers, DARLENE SWEETLAND and RON STOLBERG have decades of experience working with children and their families as well as consulting with teachers, counselors and administrators. They are married and facing similar challenges of raising children and teens of this generation.
Learn more and connect with Ron Stolberg and Darlene Sweetland
Teaching Kids To Think Facebook Page
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Colette is a busy mom of 2 kids focusing solely on being a mom. She hails from the Caribbean and now balances the full life of being a SAHM and dabbling in odd jobs to help around the home. She enjoys sharing her memories, hopes, food, travel, entertainment, and product experiences on her blog. Please read my disclosure