5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids and Find Life Balance
Thank you to the kidkind foundation for sharing this great article by Philip Brown, PhD, about the value of children being involved in community service activities.
1. Let your kids know that you care about them for who they are, not just what they can do. Children need to know that your love is not contingent on their achievements.
2. Remember that children do not have the same sense of time that you do. Part of growing up is being able to put things in perspective. There will likely be another friend, another team, another trip if this one does not work out.
3. Working hard at something you love to do is one of the best parts of life. It takes some of us a lot of experimenting to find those things we love. Kids need that free time to try new things, as well as the permission to give them up and try something else.
4. Some kids organize their time and find their interests with just a little exposure; other kids may need a bit of a push to try things that don't seem attractive or interesting (or may be threatening). The trick here is to be sensitive to individual needs and persistent in offering opportunities. If you need to be pushy, try to offer alternatives, so kids have a voice in what they will be doing. For example, some children thrive in competitive sports, and others may find their niche in hiking or dancing.
5. Remember to include exposure to helping others in your family activities. One of the best ways of developing empathy in our children (and ourselves) is to feel the gratitude that is expressed when we help others. This doesn't happen if we don't have the opportunity of interacting with others in need or whom we help. This can happen within the context of the family itself, as well, and doesn't necessarily require a formal charity event. Create opportunities in which children can feel that they have meaningfully helped other family members or the whole family accomplish something. The combination of caring, responsibility, feeling respected, and gratitude is a powerful stew that nourishes the soul.
“When we're overprogrammed and feel we can't keep up, or are constantly running on empty, stress can lead to anxiety, depression and take a toll on our minds and bodies,” commented Dr. Brown. "For children, this can surface in many ways – trouble sleeping, frequent irritability, aggressiveness with siblings, trouble in school, moodiness or frequent illness are all common signs that something is not right and needs to be explored.”
To raise children of good character, a combination of guidance, freedom, and support in the context of shared values should be provided. Most 21st century parents in America experience tension between their roles as providers, parents and having adult lives, a phenomenon that is widespread and not limited to one class or location. Reflection may be valuable, even if parents are not sure if they are overbooking.
“For most parents, laying the groundwork for their children’s happiness and fulfillment is a top priority,” said Leigh Ann Errico, CEO and founder of Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation. “But it’s important that families step back and assess the hours being devoted to various activities on the never-ending list of possibilities. Downtime can be time well-spent.”
Errico built Wear the Cape (www.facebook.com/wearthecape) and established the foundation in 2013 after she came up short in her search for resources on kindness and character-building that would appeal to her own four children. The idea for the brand was sparked when Errico observed that the chance to wear a cape—the organization’s logo—motivates children to act like heroes, or “Cape Kids,” in order to live up to the symbol of honor.
Dr. Brown has partnered with Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation to help parents nationwide foster good character in their kids. For additional resources from Dr. Brown and to learn more about Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation, go to www.wearthecapekids.com.