Are we putting our kids into too many structured activities?

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Are we being overly eager to see our children blossom? Are we adamant that they get exposed to a wide variety of sports and activities so as to discover where their gifts and talents lie? Or do we really need a place for them to be occupied while we work on afternoons and week ends or prefer to not have to entertain them ourselves?

Some of these are valid reasons for putting our children into too many extra curricular activities.

I just want to caution well intentioned parents that having our children involved in too many structured activities can be depriving them of good old genuine unstructured play time. Its also been concluded that too much involvement can lead to anxiety.

Research shows that children’s brains need down time, day dreaming time, time for their imaginations to spark, time for their brain to negotiate with play mates, time to create, explore, de-stress and process emotions and experiences. This special free time allows self-discovery to take place, discovery about their passions, the stirrings of their heart, their gifts, interests. They have time to become doers not just followers of instructions and restricted to rules of games and activities (which, don’t get me wrong is very important but within reason).

Everything created and invented was fist imagined. Creativity emerges from the imagination. There is no time to engage the imagination when from waking till sleeping their time is structured. Screen time is structured time by the way. The mind does not freely dream or imagine while engaged with a screen.

What do we do when they say they are bored?

We can start by giving them a hug and one to one time to connect and refuel their emotional buckets. When they feel satisfied they will most likely pull away to entertain themselves. If not, then you can offer to have them do a quiet activity near you or get involved with what you are doing. You can find hundreds of ideas to create a Boredom Buster Jar on the web or better yet have your kids create one with you, filling a jar with ideas of things to do when bored.

My favourite response to “I’m bored” is “Great I can find chores for you to do”.

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