How to spot an overscheduled child

WATCH ABOVE: Many parents sign their children up for spring sports programs and other activities at this time of year, and the number of commitments on your child’s schedule can quickly pile up. Laurel Gregory looks into how much is too much when it comes to kids’ activities, and what signs to watch out for that they may be overwhelmed.

Shuttling her sons to eight sporting sessions a week is a cakewalk for Clara Royer.

At the height of the winter sports’ season, the Edmonton mother and her husband managed to get their boys to between about 16 and 18 extracurricular activities in a single week.

Knowing 13-year-old Jack and 11-year-old Ben loved their lacrosse, hockey, basketball and volleyball sessions, the family made it work.

“We often eat supper at home together. Every night I find a way to make that happen. We bring our books in our car to get our reading in,” Royer said. “I get my exercise in when they are practising so I keep busy, they keep busy and we all seem to enjoy it.”

Royer credits her community group for helping to get the boys to activities when she or her husband have to work late.

“There’s always someone willing to help or someone that can get them to where they need to go,” Royer said. “At this point I don’t feel I’m overwhelmed. If I was I would probably tell the boys they have to cut something back.”

Overscheduling is a hot topic for parents trying to enrich their children with extracurricular activities without overwhelming them.

Christina Rinaldi recently discussed the topic at a parenting workshop in Edmonton. The director of Clinical Child Psychology at the University of Alberta says identifying priorities and values can help parents find the right balance for their family.

“You have to kind of read, is it interfering with the things that your family wants to do or other things that you value like time together,” Rinaldi said. “A good question to ask is, ‘what is important to us? Do we need to be involved in all these activities? What makes sense? What are we giving up in exchange?’

“So, there is no magic formula, however, asking those kinds of questions might make some families make some decisions.”

Watch below: Alberta psychologist describes the impact of overscheduling on kids

Rinaldi describes signs that could indicate an overscheduled child:

  • Irritable
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Forced to do homework late at night
  • Disinterested in the activity
  • Not getting face-to-face time with family
  • Booked or scheduled every minute of the day
  • Unable to find free time

Royer’s sons love sports and use the time to socialize.

“Normally it’s with our friends so we get to hang out with our friends a lot,” 11-year-old Ben said. “It’s just fun to run around and play sports.”

As long as it stays fun for the kids, Royer will keep up with the busy schedule.

“Just follow their lead. If they are enjoying it and you can make it happen, why not?”

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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