Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size
A
A
A

Kids on Tight Schedules May Lose Out, Study Says

Study shows having more free time teaches children how to plan, solve problems and make decisions

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Barbara Bronson Gray

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Which approach to parenting is best: tiger mom or free range?

A new study suggests that kids may need a little more latitude with their free time instead of having their days packed with lessons, sports and structured activities.

"The more time kids had in less structured activities, the more self-directed they were and, also, the reverse was true: The more time they spent in structured activities, the less able they were to use executive function," said study author Yuko Munakata, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Munakata said that her own children, who are 5 and 8, loved hearing the results of the study. "They would like less structure," she noted.

Dr. Caroline Martinez, a developmental pediatrician and behavioral specialist at the Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, explained that executive function includes a broad range of thinking skills that include planning, problem-solving, making decisions and regulating thoughts and actions.

"You don't have a chance to develop those skills in structured activities and classes," Martinez said.

It's more and more common for parents to schedule their children in a wide range of activities, primarily to keep them busy and engaged, or to help ensure they maintain a competitive edge in sports or academics. "In some ways, it's the way the world is going," Martinez noted.

But she encouraged parents to offer children a balance between some structured time, where they can learn a specific skill, and some free time.

This isn't the first study to question the value of overly involved parenting. Research published last year in the journal Parenting: Science and Practice by a different group of researchers found that preschoolers with mothers who tried to direct their play were less happy than were children with parents who didn't interfere.

The new study, published recently in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, was an effort to determine whether a lifestyle of scheduled, structured activities affects the way a child's brain develops.

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
 
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow