There are now so many options available for extra-curricular activities for children of all ages. And with dual income families as well as the concern of too much screen time parents are quick to arrange for those empty minutes to be filled. However, a healthy balance of both is best for preschoolers and young children to ensure their early years are as fun and engaging as possible. Sometimes a little boredom with children is not necessarily a bad thing. A bored child will find something to do – something that uses his creativeness, imagination, and critical thinking skills that are all needed in life but should come naturally. Before the days when a 4 year old could navigate an impressive game on the iPad – he would build a fort in the living room with the couch cushions and blankets that were pulled off every bed in the house. Furthermore, he’d play in it all day long dreaming up different scenarios! These days, however, it seems we have to sync our children’s social and activity calendars with our own to ensure nothing is missed. Here are a few tips on recognizing and managing your Preschooler’s busy life.
Your child might be overscheduled if…
- He shows little interest in any Did your preschooler used to wake up talking about the tumbling class that he’d get to go to that afternoon? What happened? Now it’s a fight to get him to want to ride his tricycle – let alone go to his favorite class. Look for signs that your child is craving some unstructured time. It’s possible he’s just lost interest in that particular activity. But not wanting to do anything could be a concern.
- She’s tired all the time. Is it all you can do get through dinner without your preschooler falling asleep at the table? Are you having a hard time getting her up in the mornings? Young children’s bodies are forever growing and need rest for heathy development. That includes their brains needing a break, too!
- You’re compromising valuable family time. Are family meals now eaten in shifts? Are bedtime rituals a thing of the past? Too little time for these special moments we take for granted can have long-term effects on a child.
- Your child is starting to show signs of anxiety. Fun activities certainly don’t cause anxiety. However, a child’s personality that is already predisposed to be anxious could be amplified if she is tired from not enough rest or feeling as if she cannot successfully manage each challenge perfectly. Sometimes consistency is key to ensuring the anxiety is managed effectively and with something different scheduled each night that is nearly impossible.
Some tips on a healthy balance …
- Choose ONE activity. You and your child choose one extra-curricular activity. It might be a sport that has practice one night a week and a game on weekends. It may be a fun club that meets. And it doesn’t have to be the same one forever. Quality over quantity can have a positive impact.
- Change it up! Who says your child has to commit to something until it is mastered? Sign up for a seasonal sport. Agree to musical instrument lessons for a set period of time. You will find what your child really does enjoy (and doesn’t enjoy!) without burning her out.
- Find something that the entire family can do. Maybe you can make Friday nights Family Night with no sleepovers or activities for just one child. Cook dinner together every Sunday. Volunteer Saturday mornings somewhere or work on a family project such as building a tree house. This will allow for those scattered schedules to reconnect.
- Carve out plenty of “Do Nothing” time. Sounds counter intuitive to schedule time to do nothing but that may be the best way to ensure it happens. Set aside time for your child to ‘be bored’ – you will find he may not be as bored as you thought.
Scheduling activities for your children is admirable and can have healthy benefits. It can teach them a healthy life skill of commitment, allow them to explore new avenues, and avoid too much time in front allowing trouble to find them. However, be mindful that it is not so structured that a little boredom can’t result in an impressive fort being built in your very own living room!