by Mercy Kids President Dr. Joseph Kahn
In this day of parenting, it’s tough to find balance. Either you have the child who plays video games all day while eating chips and drinking soda or the child who has so many practices, lessons and groups and planned activities that you (and grandparents, like me) can’t keep track. It’s tough to know what’s best. If they aren’t busy all the time, will they become addicted to their phones, tablets, computer screens and TVs? Is it possible to find a balance between too much and too little scheduling – too much and too little free time? Like Julia Child said of rich French food: “Everything in moderation.”
There are known benefits to scheduled activities including enrichment and sports. Skills are refined, children learn to work together, whether it’s to score a goal or earn a merit badge. Group activities are known to boost self-esteem. Children who are active are less likely to eventually abuse drugs and alcohol. Children who are active often learn life balance and time management.
How much is enough and how much is too much? There is really no right amount of activity to plan. Some kids thrive with more and some with less. It’s important that every child (and, for that matter, every adult) have free time to think, to daydream, to actually be bored and refreshed. Most important it’s during these unscheduled free times that children and their parents have time to communicate, to be with each other to show their love. A child who knows he is loved will have the power to overcome life’s inevitable challenges.
Finally, remember that these activities are supposed to be fun. Your child’s self-worth is not dependent on being the best athlete or getting the most badges. Encourage your child to work hard and succeed but don’t live vicariously through their endeavors.