Pediatric Expert Tips: Make Sure Your Child Isn't Too Busy
Participating in sports and extracurricular activities can be great for children, but sometimes they can be too busy. Children who have too much to do often have to stay up later to get homework or chores finished. This can lead to lack of sleep, which can affect focus, memory and the ability to problem-solve.
It is important to keep your child healthy at school, and sleep is a major part of that. Sleep is needed for the brain and body to function at its best. Young children need an average of 10 to 11 hours sleep each night. Teens need at least nine hours of sleep.
In this video, Children's Hospital Emergency Department Director Ryan Redman, M.D., talks about signs your child may be overscheduled:
Signs your child may be too busy:
- Feeling tired, anxious or depressed.
- Complaining of headaches and stomachaches due to stress, missed meals or lack of sleep.
- Falling behind on schoolwork, causing grades to drop.
- Arguing more with family and friends.
Tips to help busy families:
- Agree on ground rules ahead of time. For example, plan on kids playing one sport a season or limit activities to two afternoons or evenings during the school week.
- Know how much time is required. Does your child realize soccer practice is twice a week, right after school, until dinnertime? Will homework suffer? Have this conversation with your child.
- Keep a calendar to stay organized. Display it in a prominent spot so everyone can be up to date.
- Be flexible. It's OK for your child to miss one or two practices or lessons to wind down or enjoy family time.
- Know when to say no. School should come first; if grades are suffering, something may need to be dropped. Teach your child to prioritize which activities are most important. Only allow your child to add another activity if he's willing to drop something else.