When you’re crazy-busy, even little kids get stressed out

Hit ‘pause’ on preschool activities that leave little downtime

Mother spinning daughter in tutu in bedroom.

Kids of all ages face pressure to be involved in various activities, and parents face pressure to offer their children opportunities to learn new skills and be exposed to different hobbies.

Your 3-5-year-old child might be overscheduled if:

  • They don’t have much downtime
  • You notice that they have lost interest in things that once brought joy
  • Your child is withdrawn and quiet
  • They may seem grumpy and tired
  • You notice your child gets sick often

Effects of having an overscheduled child

So how much scheduling is too much? The key is in keeping a close eye on your child to monitor for signs of activity-related stress. Here are some effects of overscheduling:

  • Behavioral issues
  • Stress
  • Loss of family time
  • Missed opportunities for relaxation

Another effect of overscheduling is that preschoolers can become overly dependent on outside resources to provide stimulation. Children whose lives are rigidly scheduled don’t learn to amuse themselves or develop the inner resources to cope with boredom.

Ways to create a healthy balance

  • Choose one activity. You and your child choose one extra-curricular activity.
  • Change it up. Who says your child has to commit to something until it is mastered? Sign up for a seasonal sport.
  • Find something that the entire family can do. Try a Friday Family Night or find a community activity that the whole family can do together. This could be a regular volunteering event or family outing.
  • Carve out plenty of “do nothing” time. It may sound silly to schedule time to do nothing but that may be the best way to ensure that it happens.

In a culture that prizes overscheduling, pushing back against being “crazy busy” takes courage, but it is worth doing. By thoughtfully slowing down the pace of your children’s lives so they have time to play, go outside, decompress, and breathe deeply, you increase their chances of creating happily productive lives for themselves.

For help finding the healthy balance for your family, call Sanford’s Parenting Line at (605) 312-8390  or email parenting@sanfordhealth.org.

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Posted In Children's, Family Medicine, Parenting