Doctors' Orders: Kids and Overscheduling

Kid frustrated from overschedulingWith school back in session kids will be participating in all kinds of activities along with their schoolwork. How much is too much? Here are five ways to avoid over scheduling.

  • Agree on ground rules ahead of time (for example, plan on kids playing one sport per 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.)
  • Keep a calendar to stay organized (Display it in a prominent spot)
  • Be flexible (It’s ok for your child to miss one or two practices/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 children to prioritize which activities are most important to them and only allow them to add another activity if willing to drop something else)

Signs your child might be too busy:

  1. Feel tired, anxious, or depressed
  2. Complain of headaches and stomachaches (may be due to stress, missed meals, or lack of sleep)
  3. Fall behind on their schoolwork (Kids who have too much to do often have to stay up late to get homework or chores done- leading to trouble with focus, memory and ability to problem solve----causing grades to drop)
  4. Argue more with family and friends (kids don’t have as much time to spend with friends when they are participating in lots of activities and they may be more irritable)

-- Reviewed by Dr. Shannon Cohen, Children's Hospital Physician

Doctors' Orders is an ongoing series featuring articles from the experts at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.