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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kids Need Freedom! How Overscheduling and Micromanaging Can Backfire

Photo by Ole.Pophal (Flickr)

My girls love summer, but some days, they spend every waking minute running from swim lessons to art camp to play dates. I know my girls want to have fun, and I don't want them to miss out on any activities, but all of this busyness leaves my girls exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. I reflected this week on our recent busyness and realized that I have to give my kids freedom to create their own fun. Overscheduling and micromanaging my kids backfires in seven ways.

Hinders a Child's Independence

One of our basic jobs as parents is to equip our kids to be independent adults. We achieve this goal by giving our kids opportunities to make their own choices and find their unique voice. Start by giving kids free time and letting them decide how to spend it. Whether they're toddlers or teens, they will appreciate the freedom to explore hobbies, discover interests, and exercise their independence.

Causes Health Problems

Kids who are overscheduled or micromanaged may experience physical and emotional health problems like insomnia, anxiety, or headaches. For example, when we're too busy, my older daughter eventually drops wherever she happens to be sitting and sleeps for hours, while my younger daughter gets grumpy and clingy. I've learned to monitor their health and emotions and adjust our schedule as I help them stay healthy.

Harms School Performance

Some kids can juggle sports, music lessons, dance classes, and school work successfully. Others, including my younger daughter, struggle to keep up with homework and tests when they're busy. We decided to let the girls choose one after-school activity at a time during the school year. This way, they continue to enjoy the activities they love while they pursue academic excellence.

Impedes Kids From Learning Time Management

I want my girls to learn how to manage their time wisely so they get ready for school on time and don't wait until the last minute to finish big projects. To learn this skill, they need me to stop dictating how they spend every second. Instead, I must give them free time and space to practice and develop wise time management skills.

Isolates Kids From Friends

When kids are overscheduled with activities, their friendships can suffer. Friends are important because they help kids relax, improve physical and mental health, and boost immunity. Be sure your kids have plenty of time to spend with their friends. They need that support!

Cuts Into Family Time

We're so busy some days that my kids and I only connect for a few minutes in the car and before bed. Kids need quality and quantity face-to-face time with their parents and siblings. Prioritize family meal time, game time, and play time as you improve your family's relationships.

Prevents Kids From Being Kids

I often hear the phrase, "Let kids be kids." It means that we need to give kids time, space, and freedom to explore, experiment, and enjoy life. Whether they're 2 or 12, they need time to enjoy whatever hobbies, interests, and fun that helps them relax, unwind, and be a kid.

Do your kids show any of these signs that indicate that they're overscheduled and micromanaged? If so, I encourage you to evaluate your schedule. Activities definitely benefit our kids, but they need freedom to create their own fun, too. Join me in finding balance and helping our kids thrive!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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