Parkridge Medical Group June 26, 2015

How busy should your child be?

Signing your child up for a plethora of summer camps and activities can be tempting, but how much is too much? As a parent, it’s easy to see other children going to this soccer practice and that piano lesson and become afraid your child might fall behind. What is good for one child, however, may not necessarily work well for another.

Keeping your child active can benefit his or her health, but a schedule that is too tightly packed can be tiring for both of you. The atmosphere of competition fostered by sports leagues and even dance or gymnastics lessons can be stressful for some children rather than fun, and negative experiences could turn your child off the activity in question for good.

Signs your child may be overscheduled include anything from missing meals to feeling tired or anxious to even complaining of not feeling well before a practice or game. If you notice any of these red flags, it could mean your child needs a dose of unscheduled playtime.

The Value of Unstructured Time

The American Academy of Pediatrics believes unstructured playtime is important for children. When children are left to determine how to fill their own time, they develop decision-making skills, which builds confidence. Unstructured group play provides opportunities for improving leadership abilities as well as problem-solving and social skills.

When children play without restriction, they learn more about themselves and the world they live in. Unstructured play still provides opportunity for movement and exercise, but children are free to do it outside the confines of routine sports practices. Kids also have the chance to determine what activities really interest them, as opposed to ones in which they may participate because of outside pressure.