After School Activities
- Avoid “overscheduled” children
- Sports participation
Keep in mind that childhood is not a dress rehearsal for adulthood. It is a separate and unique time of life that should leave time for children to find delight in simple things, like making a playhouse out of a box, or staring at the clouds to decide what they look like. Getting your children involved in sports and activities promotes physical activity, learning to play with peers, and learning the value of teamwork, but be careful not to do too much too soon. There should be ample time for homework, family time, unstructured play, and time to simply “be.” One or two nights per week with one weekend activity is appropriate for elementary school-aged children. In middle and high school most activities are 4-5 days per week, but consider giving your child a season “off” and make sure they are not running from one activity to another.
Participation in physical activity, whether it is puddle-jumping in the rain or playing soccer, must be an integral part of a healthy childhood. Make sure you choose an appropriate activity for your child. A child who is overwhelmed by team sports may enjoy swimming, dancing, tennis or karate. Parents, you know your child best: choose an activity that suits your child, not one in which you would like to see her participate.
If your child plays team sports, make sure you are a positive parent on the sidelines. Cheer for all children for their successes, and avoid shouting directions to your child on the field. Praise effort, not outcome, and emphasize the fun. Insist on positive coaching. If your child’s coach motivates by yelling, negative feedback and criticism, find a different team for your child.