It is one thing to keep the children occupied, to make sure their energies are spent in learning and constructive activities, and another to not give them time to just be, or play.
Here are a few pointers that may help to understand if we are overloading our kids:
Different Strokes for Different Folks
The most important thing to realise is that, not all kids are the same. While your neighbours’ kids may be doing the same activities in a day and excelling in almost most of them, it is possible that your children are overwhelmed by them.
Check for signs of fidgety behaviour, or grumpiness. It is possible that they are too tired, and are feeling out of sorts mentally. This is very much like a cranky toddler who does not know he is tired or sleepy. If your child is like this at the fag-end of every day, you can start re-thinking his or her schedule.
Your Child Is Happy When Activities Get Cancelled
While kids do love missing a class or two, if they really cheer when an activity they loved to participate in gets cancelled, its time you have a talk.
What makes them want to avoid it? Maybe they didn’t like it as much as they thought they would, when they wanted to join. An honest talk can help you prioritize their time, to include the best possible options and cut out the rest.
Fun No More
This is a true story. My nephew loved going golfing with his dad. The golf course even gave kids a little bucket of balls to tee off. It was a weekend fun activity for him. So the parents decided to put him in golf classes and he was good too.
Within six months, the coach told his parents, he could qualify to participate in the first levels if he practiced a little more. So, he started going everyday instead of twice a week. Within the first month of this new schedule, he started making excuses to avoid classes. It had just stopped being fun and had become a chore. Thankfully, he had parents who recognised the signs and let him be.
Today he goes to soccer class, twice a week and is not only enjoying it but also has qualified to a senior team.
You Don’t Spend Any Time With Your Child
If your child is busy running from one class to another, and you see him only at night, he is too busy. I have actually seen parents pride themselves on such a full calendar.
Every child needs some winding down time. Keep at least an hour or two before bedtime should be quality time spent with family laughing and just being together. If we cannot find time for that, no amount of time grooming our children into all the rest of the stuff is going to be worth it.
The Middle Path
Many successful singers, sportsmen, etc have reached the heights only by pushing themselves. But let’s be honest. It is obvious that no child is going to become a professional swimmer, cricketer and top in his classes all at once.
Children may express their interest in a lot of activities. We as adults need to understand if it is plain intent, or they really have the drive and the time to go through with it.
Discuss which the one is or two activities at most that your child really wants to pursue, and focus on them. The rest could be taken up during holidays, like summer camps, etc.
Go ahead, take inventory. You could be making more time with your child, and nothing beats that.