The Overbooked Child
Good parents sign their kids up for dance, sports, music, art, and language lessons, right? In a recent NewYorkTimes.com article Alina Tugend says, “…in an effort to give their children everything, some parents end up not just depleting financial resources, but also their own emotional energy.” Exposure to early opportunities, classes, sports, and lessons to gain skills doesn’t guarantee future success for your child, and in some cases may be detrimental to your child and family. Here are some common myths that lead to overbooked kids, parenting truths and tips to help you to give your child what he or she really needs to succeed.
MYTH #1: Good parents sign their children up for many activities
TRUTH: Too many activities can create anxiety, exhaustion, and stress for children and parents.
TIP: Balance scheduled activities with unstructured play time
Play is a child’s work. It is crucial to a child’s development of intelligence, imagination, social skills and language, especially in young children. Overbooking activities can negatively impact your child’s overall development.
MYTH #2: If I push my child to excel he/she will have high self-esteem
TRUTH: Excellence and achievement doesn’t equal self-worth.
If a child’s sense of self-worth is based on excellent performance in a sport or activity, what happens when they break their arm, or they don’t make the basketball team? Be cautious not to gauge your value as a parent on your child’s achievements or talents.
TIP: Create family rituals that foster connection and emotional communication.
Children who have strong family relationships and have parents who coach them in healthy expression and management of emotions have stronger sense of self-worth and have more success later in life.
MYTH #3: All children have an exceptional hidden talent
TRUTH: Exceptionally talented children are just that — the exception.
TIP: Expose your child to a variety of activities and interests over time, not at the same time.
Most children will grow up to be good people and productive members of society with a variety of gifts, abilities, strengths and talents.
MYTH #4 Good parents always put their child first
TRUTH: Top parenting skills don’t involve sacrificing for your child.
TIP: Show love and affection, manage your own stress, and model healthy adult relationships.
Often, the best thing you can do for your child is to take good care of yourself and your relationships instead of overparenting and overbooking them.
References & Links:
Epstein, R., What Makes a Good Parent, (Nov. 2010). Scientific American Mind, 46-51.
Tugen, A., Family Happiness and the Overbooked Child, (2011, Aug 12). New York Times.
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