Is Your Child Overscheduled?

Every parent wants his or her child to excel academically, athletically, socially--you name it. And it's only natural that we want our children to be given opportunities that we might not have had. But with all of the activities today's kids are juggling, some children may be taking on as many responsibilities as adults.

According to research from the University of Michigan Medical School, in some cases, lots of activities can be too much—and too much can lead to anxiety, mood, and behavioral problems. Parents can easily miss the signs because they're so busy trying to keep up with their schedules and they want their kids to develop their talents.

12 Signs That Your Child Is Juggling Too Much

Is it possible that, between football, drama club, and after-school tutoring, your child has taken on more than he can comfortably handle? If you can answer yes to the following questions, he is spreading himself too thin and may need to take a break.

  1. Does he act annoyed or irritable?
  2. Does he have trouble falling asleep at bedtime?
  3. Are his grades slipping?
  4. Has he started overeating?
  5. Does he zone out in front of the TV?
  6. Does he complain of stomachaches, headaches, or other illnesses?
  7. Does he grumble about being bored?
  8. Is he overly anxious about getting approval from authority figures?
  9. When you're heading out the door, does he throw a tantrum?
  10. Does he pick fights with his or her siblings or complain that you don't love him as much?
  11. Does he have difficulty keeping track of where he is supposed to be?
  12. Is his schedule draining you or your family members?

Establishing a New Routine

Sometimes, a kid just needs to be a kid, not a future NBA star, doctor, or pianist. Although there isn't a magic number as to how many activities your child should participate in, there are some questions you can ask yourself, according to the University of Michigan Medical School.

First, explore your own feelings about your child participating in an activity. If any part of your answer brings on stress or worry, or feels like a burden, that's a red flag that it's an activity your child shouldn't be participating in. Second, if your family never gets to enjoy time together because that time revolves around bussing a child from activity to activity, that's also a sign that your child is overscheduled.

Remember, everything—including activities—are okay in moderation. But being overscheduled could wind up doing your child more harm than good. After all, middle schoolers should not be worried about their resumes or college applications. They should participate in activities simply because they enjoy them.