Dangers of overscheduling your child

In our ever evolving fast paced society, there is more pressure than ever to have a child that plays not only an instrument, is on the first time in several sports and excels at school.  In order to do all of that we place our children in afterschool activities, tuition, weekend clubs and more.  However, a study by the American College of Pediatricians, showed that overscheduling children can have some serious consequences.  These include:

  1. Stress and anxiety

Research has shown that children who spend excess time participating in activities report higher levels of anxiety.


  1. Missing out on family bonding time

Dr. Alvin Rosenfield, author of The Overscheduled Child, reported that unscheduled family time is key to building a healthy parent-child relationship.


  1. Loss of interest

Often children tend to loose interest in an activity they once enjoyed if they feel too much pressure.



What to look for:


How much is too much? The answer depends from child to child.  Here are some signs to look out for


  • Theyre moody, grumpy or irritable
  • They look/act tired
  • They aren’t sleeping well
  • They complain of headaches or stomachaches
  • You never seem to have any downtime
  • They’ve lost interest in things they used to love
  • Their grades are slipping
  • They don’t connect with their friends anymore
  • They turn to you for guidance on everything


How to avoid overscheduling


Tips to avoid overscheduling for you and your family.


  1. Make a list of priorities

Sit down with your child and make a list of current activities and activities they like to join.  Discuss each one and cross out ones that aren’t a priority until your both happy with the balance.


  1. Establish ground rules

Make it clear on how many activities can be joined during the school year, and how many hours a week can be dedicated to each one, and your expectations in terms of grades and behavior.


  1. Take out any activities that represent your dreams

Make sure that you aren’t inadvertently pushing your unfulfilled dreams on your child.  When discussing the activities with your child resist the urge to convince them that one activity is better than the other.  You’ll find the more a child enjoys an activity they will naturally try harder at it.


  1. Schedule downtime

Kids need alone time and time with the family.  Family activity time can be scheduled into the calendar as well.  This time is just as important if not more so than activities out of the home.  Family time is important for family bonding. 


  1. Know when to let go

Periodically reevaluate how your child is coping and feeling and make adjustments where necessary. If they are exhibiting any of the signs above sit and talk with them and consider cutting back on an activity. 



Try and instill a feeling in your child that their wellbeing is more important than being the fastest swimmer or the best violin player.  Teaching your child in their early years to reduce stress and seek balance will set them up with a valuable skill set they can use throughout life.