Tips from Julie Erwin Rinaldi, ADAMH Vice President of Consumer and Network Services, to make sure your child is not over-scheduled or overwhelmed:
In today's busy society, parents are all too familiar with the pressure of balancing their children's busy schedules with their own. From sports practices to dance classes, children today are involved with numerous extracurricular activities that keep them moving from sun-up to sun-down. As the number of after-school activities increases, schedules soon clash and both children and parents begin to show signs of fatigue, anxiety and stress. Parents - and children - have started asking themselves, "Is all of this really worth it?"
"I have always been active and competitive, and I have fun playing sports and participating in activities with my friends," said Baylee Kuhlwein, a highly active student at Walnut Elementary who loves being involved in sports and many other after-school activities. "I sometimes have to make sure to find time to complete my assignments, which can be challenging especially on game nights."
Children who are overscheduled are often anxious, or may even become depressed. Some burn out at an early age and withdraw from activities all together. Others may complain of stomachaches and headaches for a variety of reasons like stress, missed meals or too little sleep. Their grades may suffer because they have fallen behind on schoolwork. Even friendships and family relationships can be hurt in the process.
As a caring parent, you want to make sure your child can take advantage of every opportunity, but too many activities can take a toll on your child's happiness. Fortunately, there are a few tips from Julie Erwin Rinaldi, ADAMH Vice President of Consumer and Network Services, to make sure your child is not over-scheduled or overwhelmed:
Reduce commitments if your family's activities are becoming too numerous; Listen if your child is complaining about being involved in activities or seems extremely tired; Don't forget to schedule free time for you, your kids and your family. Intentionally plan for periods of unstructured time; Watch for warning signs of anxiety or depression. If your child complains or becomes disinterested in activities she has always enjoyed, it may be a warning sign of something more serious. Watch for overall exhaustion of both the children and parents. An exhausted parent is unable to parent effectively and an exhausted child is unable to function academically or socially. Parents should remember that organized activities and sports could also be favorable for kids for a variety of reasons. They promote social skills and provide opportunities for play and exercise. Overall, they are meant to be enjoyed. Ensuring that activities stay fun and making sure that they don't take over the family's life will help reduce the changes of both parents and children becoming over-scheduled and over-stressed.
"As a parent, I enjoy going to see my children participate in sports and other activities," said Lucinda Kuhlwein a mother of three. "At times it can really get overwhelming but the joy of seeing my children happy gets me through the tough days. As a family, we make sure we make time to just relax. For example, every Sunday we go out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant to enjoy ourselves and prepare for the week ahead. We love it!"
If you're concerned that you or a loved one may be too overwhelmed with the stress of their busy schedule, or may be suffering from something more serious, contact a health care professional or Netcare Access at 276-CARE (2273). For more information about ADAMH and our provider agencies, call (614) 224-1057 or visit our Website at www.adamhfranklin.org