|Your child is over-scheduled if: |
The activity is no longer fun. When Columbia University Teachers College researcher Suniya cq Luthar's son was 15, he announced he wanted to quit trumpet. He had just made all-county orchestra. She wasn't happy. "Why now?" she asked. "It's not fun anymore," he said. "Am I supposed to do this because I enjoy it or is there some other reason?" There is no other good reason. Luthar told him, "I'd rather you retain a love for music and not play trumpet than continue with trumpet and come to hate music."
Your family life is out of whack. You can't go to church because it conflicts with soccer. You can't go out Saturday nights because you have to be up at 4 a.m. to get him to hockey practice. You're eating dinner as a family fewer than four times a week.
You're out of whack. Irritable? annoyed? Sleep-deprived? You want the best for your children, but you resent the time you spend chauffering them. You love them dearly, but you're always snapping at them.
Your child is miserable. She might not tell you in words (she doesn't want to disappoint you, after all), so look at her behavior: A gregarious child who is suddenly withdrawn, an even-tempered child who is uncharacteristically whiney. When psychiatrist Alvin Rosenfeld' cqs daughter was 10, her gymnastics teacher suggested she come five times a week instead of three. Rosenfeld suggested she take a month off to decide. "After a week, I noticed how much she was smiling. I realized it was the first time in a year, I had seen her smile." When he suggested she drop it altogether, she jumped at the chance.
The activity is super-competitive. If he never gets play time, says the coach plays favorites, and complains about the social climate of the group, the activity may be too professionalized for him. That translates to pressure.
She goes but never talks about it or seems excited about it. That's a sure sign she's doing it for you, not for herself. Be explicit: "I won't be upset if you don't want to do this anymore."
He wants to quit and you won't let him because he made a commitment. That doesn't compute for children under 11. As long as they've given something a fair chance (two or three times), it's OK to quit. With older children, and especially those on a team involved in upper-level play, a good response is, "You made this decision. Can you make the best of it and know that you don't have to do it again if you don't want to?"