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Young and Stressed-Out

Overscheduled Parents

"Sometimes parents are overscheduled themselves," says Haller. "And these parents may [without being aware of it] have a tendency to get their kids into a lot of activities in order to cover for their own absence."

Gurian agrees. "The parents' schedule and lifestyle has the biggest effect on a child's needs," she says. "Parents need to be aware of their own needs and pay attention to the fact that they are in large measure forming or strongly influencing their children's needs."

Another motivating factor for overscheduling may come from parents' desire for the child to be well-rounded. But it may be smarter in the long run to let children focus on activities they feel strongly about rather than expose them to too many activities.

"People are thinking about their kids' resumes earlier and earlier," says Haller. "They may be driven to more and more activities in hopes of improving the child's ability to be accepted into schools. If kids truly want to participate, that's great, but if there is resistance on the child's part, then that is something to pay attention to."

In the end, what's overscheduling for one child or family, may be underscheduling for another, say these experts. That's why this problem is ideally suited to be worked out as a family.

"The family needs to sit down and have a discussion about what activities to keep and which to drop," says Gurian. "A discussion like this can be very fruitful in terms of identifying the problem, talking over solutions, and implementing the best one for the whole family."

Gurian says that key to this process is parents guiding children to see themselves as valuable.

"It's important to stress to kids that their own value rests in who they are, not what they can or can't accomplish."

Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD, August 22, 2002

Reviewed on August 22, 2002

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