Dangers of Overscheduling your Child

5 top dangers of Overscheduling your child

As a parent, I always struggled to understand the right balance of activities for my child. I used to trust my instincts and my child’s interest in scheduling different after-school classes or activities for him. But during the initial days of the pandemic and the series of lockdowns, as all of us were staying at home, we were jumping from one class or the other to engage my child. In the mornings, my child had his online school classes, and in the evening, he attended his gymnastics online classes. Then in the afternoons, he used to pick some new hobby that he got interested in and used to join another set of online courses. Though it’s not overscheduling in the everyday vocabulary (as he is spending six hours attending various classes), his school operates for 7 hours. But the pandemic has changed the definition of overscheduling the kids. So, I would discuss the dangers of overscheduling your child, whether in online classes or offline classes.

What is overscheduling:

Overscheduling means, in plain simple terms, jumping from one activity to the other without any break time or downtime for oneself. When the person is not getting time to relax and enjoy just being with himself, then we can say that he is overscheduled.

In pre-pandemic time, though the child attends school for about seven to eight hours, the child gets time to unwind and relax while playing with friends and peers. Kids are more social than we can imagine, and all their growth happens only when their peer group is around. Hence attending school or a few activities with their friends never used to drain them.

What Overscheduling the kids would do to them quote by Joshua Becker in the blog post by Mommyshravmusings

But now, in isolation, when the child stays entirely indoors, he needs a lot of downtime or free play to be on his own to relax and unwind. All the stress of not being able to see his friends and play with them is already taking a significant toll on them. And to top it off, having to attend many online classes will definitely bring their mood down. Then as parents, we all will have one common complaint that he is not able to concentrate or focus better during the online classes.

Signs of Overscheduling the Child:

Do you remember the flaring short tempers, dropping shoulders, pure exhaustion, and sleeping in the car while traveling from one class to another in your child? These are the starting signs of being overscheduled. Here is the detailed list of symptoms of being overscheduled.

  • Increased tiredness and laziness

As the kids move from one activity to the other, either in the physical form or in the online mode, they get tired pretty quickly. Especially when the kids learn online, they need more downtime to internalize their learnings.

They become exhausted if this downtime is unavailable, and they are rushed to complete one assignment after another for the online classes.

  • Mood swings

Most of the time, the kids could not express their tiredness or exhaustion. They only feel we would hear them out when they start acting out. That’s why we can observe flared tempers, mood swings, and more when tired beyond reasonable limits.

  • It increased physical complaints like stomachaches, body pains, and headaches.

If the mood swings have not gained our attention, then the next step is the kids would use the physical pains as an excuse to skip the classes. They tend to find many more reasons to ignore or leave the styles in between.

  • Not sleeping regularly

The child’s regular sleep pattern gets disturbed; he sleeps at odd times and hence wouldn’t fall asleep during regular times.

  • Decreased interest in academics and extra-curricular activities

Due to the continuous fatigue, we can see a sharp decline in his academics, and his scores would be taking a nosedive in the downward direction. The activities he was interested in would suddenly become boring, and the child feels like withdrawing from most of his favorite hobbies and activities.

Dangers of Overscheduling your Child
  • Decreased interest in social interactions

The child only wants to relax and sleep instead of talking to friends and family members. Hence the family time and his social time gets reduced. All these interactions become a thing of the past.

Dangers of Overscheduling Your Child:

Overscheduling leads to excess burnt-out and causes many problems in the long run. Children are also not immune to these problems. So, here is the list of the dangers of overscheduling your child.

  • Early Burnt Out:

An overscheduled kid grows up into a burnt-out teen. When a young adult in their teenage has to make important decisions about his career and academics, this burnt-out kid would try to become invisible and wouldn’t want to take hold of his life. He starts looking for the support of his parents and loses the decision-making power. This will continue well into adulthood as well. He will not be able to stand up for himself.

  • Kills creativity and playtime:

The downtime gives a chance for a lot of free play for kids. The free play time improves their imagination and creativity. These are the most essential tools in building critical thinking skills in kids. When the child is overscheduled, it will kill all his creativity and imagination as he tends to become robotic-like in jumping from one activity to the other.

  • Increased anxiety and pressure

When the child starts attending multiple classes, the pressure of completing various assignments/projects and home works on time will build the child’s anxiety. So instead of enjoying those classes, he will start worrying about the pending stuff from the previous courses. This robs the joy of learning in kids.

  • Falls prey to Unhealthy eating habits

As a typical human being, when under stress prefers junk food and drinks, the child would also get addicted to junk food. Overscheduling leaves no room for physical activity. That way, the kids get introduced to the unhealthy lifestyle at an early stage itself.

  • Reduced Self-Esteem and Confidence:

The child struggles to complete all the deliverables despite being exhausted so he wouldn’t give his best. That automatically reduces his self-confidence levels. He will start comparing himself with others performing better than him, and his self-esteem will take a significant toll.

Tips to avoid overscheduling the child:

So, now you might be wondering how to escape the dangers of overscheduling your child. What are the tips for getting your happy and energetic kid back? Here are a few tips that can help you in this process.

  1. Prioritize their calendar: As a first step, discuss with all the family members, including your child, and consider his true interests and passions. Based on that input, prioritize and cut short all the unnecessary classes for him. Ensure that there is certain downtime scheduled every day.
  2. Establish the Ground Rules: Depending on your kid’s passions and schooling needs, he has to attend a few classes mandatorily. That needs to be made very clear and should become the ground rules of the house.
  3. Have a fixed family time or downtime daily: As a family, start practicing spending some time together and sharing at least one meal together. The family that eats together always stays together.
  4. Encourage personal development and enrichment: Encourage the child to use the downtime to enrich himself with whatever topic/hobby that interests him. There should be an enrichment plan in place; otherwise, in this digital world, it’s easy for the child to become gadget addicts to while away their time.
  5. Shrug of all the Peer Pressure: Peer pressure and the pressure to compare your child to others can come from all directions. As a parent, we need to be wise and not bow down in front of all these pressures.

Final Thoughts:

So, in our story, after we realized that my child is looking duller and started acting disinterested in his passionate areas, we had taken a call to take a break from all his activities other than the school. Nowadays, he just attends only his online school classes and one extra language class, twice a week.

We took this decision two months back, and in one month, we can see a lot of improvements in his disposition. His appetite for knowledge is back, and he has become a more peaceful and joyful child. He has started owning up and completing all his assignments on time, without any nagging from us. As a parent, that’s what we all want, isn’t it? So, please let me know how you are avoiding the dangers due to overscheduling your child in your house in the comments below.

Suhasini, IP, is the Author of the book “Practical Tips for Kids Mental Health.” As a certified kids and parents life coach, she helps/guides you toward a happy family life for your kids. She firmly believes that “Emotionally Happy Kids of today are the Mentally Strong and Happy Citizens of tomorrow.” Let’s make the world a happy and beautiful place for our kids to thrive.

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