‘Hyper-scheduled’ kids at risk of stress

Kids Playing

It’s important to limit activities for kids, minister warns / File picture
Source: PerthNow

HYPER-SCHEDULING by parents is running children ragged and can seriously harm their development, says the NSW minister for family and community services.

Launching a fact sheet for parents, Pru Goward has warned of the health risks to children who take part in too many extracurricular activities.

“Children need time to relax, have fun and play games,” the minister said.  “Child psychologists have recognised that we are putting too much pressure on our children…

“We are not allowing our children enough time for unstructured play which helps them to learn, occupy themselves and express their personalities.”

Ms Goward has said children who are hyper-scheduled often show signs of stress, including fatigue, irritability and disturbed sleep.

If this happens, she has urged parents to reduce the number of activities their children participate in each week.

Parents need to strike a balance between planned activities and downtime, she said.

“While involving your children in activities keeps them active and provides them with positive experiences, it is important to remember that having some downtime is just as important,” the minister added.

“Too many activities can mean less family time and, sadly, this can have an adverse effect on relationships.”

Stress caused by over-commitment is an issue recognised internationally, with child psychologists labelling the phenomena “over-scheduling”, “hyper-scheduling” or “hyper-parenting”.

Ms Goward said that over-commitment can also lead to stress in parents as a result of the financial costs and time pressures of each activity.

Hyper-scheduling: Tips for parents

– Listen to and monitor your child, looking for signs of exhaustion or irritability.
– Talk to your child about the activities they love and the ones they could live without.
– Discuss which activity your child could give up to allow them some downtime.
– Question whether it is you or your child who want to be involved in the activities.
– Limit your child to a certain number of activities, such as two a week.
– Learn to say no and set limits.
– Set aside time for family downtime.
– Don’t sacrifice your own well-being by rushing children about.

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