Posted Jun 13, 2006.
Activities can enrich children’s lives and expose them to many opportunities for future success. But too many activities can create stress and exhaustion, spreading children too thin. According to a study from the University of Michigan, children as young as 3 have notably less down time than children of the same age twenty years ago.
“Down time” is time when there are no set activities; time is unstructured and reasonably free. Children who don’t have much free time probably don’t have enough time simply to be children. Family time also gets squeezed out as more activities are added to an already full calendar. Many experts believe that family time is the glue that holds family members together.
How can parents make sure young children are not overscheduled and protect family time?
In the long run, children’s best interests are not served by an overly busy schedule that overshadows family and down time.
In his book The Intentional Family, William Dougherty argues that parent leadership can keep families connected and strong. He writes, “An intentional family rows and steers its own boat rather than being moved only by the winds and current.” As you make a plan for rowing and steering you are setting the direction for your family’s future.
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