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  • Writer's pictureDesert Bloom Counseling

The Hidden Risks of Over-Scheduling: Balancing School and Mental Health

In a bid to prepare their children for future success, many parents encourage them to participate in numerous extracurricular activities. While the intention is to foster a sense of accomplishment and pride, could this over-involvement be doing more harm than good?

A study published in the journal "Sport, Education, and Society" suggests that the social demands of an activity-heavy schedule are not only straining families but also potentially harming children's development and well-being. The study, which interviewed 50 families of primary-aged children, found that 88% of the children were involved in extracurricular activities four to five days a week. These activities became the central focus of family life, especially in households with multiple children, leading to less quality family time and exhausted children.

The researchers warned parents about the potential negative impact of an over-stuffed school schedule. They emphasized that parents who feel pressured to invest in their children's organized activities should be aware of the potential consequences and consider planning a less hectic schedule for their children.

Striking the Right Balance

To ensure that extracurricular activities bring more benefits than harm, it's crucial to prioritize family time. Here are some ways to help your child find a balance:

1. Allow Children to Be Children

Ensure there's enough unstructured time for children to express themselves creatively. This freedom allows children to experience the joy of self-discovery, which can be restricted by adult-organized activities.

2. Prioritize Family Time

The study highlighted that an overabundance of activities can strain family time. Other studies have underscored the importance of family bonds for a child's development and well-being. While it may feel counterintuitive to reduce your child's activities, remember the benefits of spending more time as a family.

3. Involve Your Child in Decision-Making

Before deciding which activities to keep or drop, get your child's input. They should have a say in choosing the activities that bring them the most joy and benefits.

4. Encourage Downtime

Just as adults need downtime to recharge, so do children. Ensure your child has time to relax, play, and simply be a kid. This can help reduce stress and promote mental well-being.

In today's fast-paced world, both children and adults often find themselves juggling too many responsibilities. It's crucial for everyone to slow down, relax, and spend quality time as a family. Over-scheduling can lead to burnout and stress, which can have long-term effects on a child's mental health.

If you're struggling to find the right balance for your family, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and strategies to help your family prioritize time together and ensure your child's schedule supports their mental health and well-being.

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