Little Kids

Are you overscheduling your child?

Swimming, ballet, hockey, music class and gymnastics all sound like fun, but how much is too much for a preschooler to handle?

By Lisa van de Geyn
Are you overscheduling your child?

While putting your fresh-out-of-toddlerhood child into age-appropriate programs is important for his physical and social development, making sure he’s not overscheduled (and overwhelmed) is key.

“Programs promote learning and provide socialization for children and parents,” says Sonia Nicolucci, a parent educator in Aurora, Ont. But there’s a fine line between signing up your youngster for a whack of lessons and putting too much on her plate.

So before you enroll your brood in everything from acting to Zumba, here are quick tips to ensure your tot’s calendar doesn’t floweth over.

Let him choose: Have your boy taking golf lessons because dad’s a golfer? It’s natural to want your kids to learn the activities you love, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be into it. “Activities with a ‘has-to’ or ‘mustdo’ feel can trigger undesirable reactions like inappropriate behaviour and rebelling,” Nicolucci says. It’s better to offer them a choice and let them pick their own programs.

Schedule carefully: Kids in full-day or even half-day care may not have the energy or focus for evening activities, says Nicolucci. If nights are too hectic in your house and there’s little time after commuting, pickups and dinner, try weekend classes. Watch for signs of burnout if kids drag their feet on the way to jazz or yawn through their piano scales, it could mean they have too much on the go. But don’t just look to them for signs, Nicolucci says. The family might be overextended if mom and dad are tired of running from activity to activity. If you’re exhausted, your tot could be, too.

This article was originally published on May 14, 2012

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