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Avoid Over-Scheduling Your Child

The Detriments To An Over-Scheduled Child

Chances are, every kid on your block is juggling music lessons, sports practices, theater rehearsals, or a myriad of other extra-curricular activities designed to put them on the track to future success.

Resist the pressure to follow suit, says psychologist Alvin Rosenfeld, author of "The Overscheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap." Today's fast-paced society encourages parents to shuttle their children from activity to activity, Rosenfeld argues, leaving too little free time to just be a family and enjoy spending time together.

Not only does this pattern leave the entire family irritable, recent research shows that an over-scheduled, pressure-filled childhood is associated with stress and substance abuse.

The biggest problem with over-scheduling is that it interferes with children's creativity, since they don't have the time to really engross themselves with one activity. In an over-scheduled family, kids never learn the importance of relaxation and "down time," or how to say no to impossible demands.

Over-scheduling also turns families into organization machines, interfering with important rituals like family celebrations, weekend excursions, and vacations. And these activities, experts say, play an important role in helping families stay connected and helping kids feel loved and supported.

Rosenfeld believes in the concept so much that he founded National Family Night, which encourages families to set aside regularly scheduled evenings to eat together, play games, take a walk, or just simply hang out -- a relaxing alternative for the painfully overbooked.

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