Some time ago, parents wanted my assistance with their daughter, but when it came time to schedule an appointment, I had to contend with step-dancing on Mondays, piano lessons on Tuesdays, pottery class on Thursdays with sleepovers on Fridays. Barely eking out C’s, the girl informed me that she did her homework in the car on the way to her various activities. Clearly too muchness was part of her problem.
This reminds me of the proverbial kid in the candy store who wants everything. Parents wouldn’t dream of permitting him/her to have it all. “You’ll get sick! Just pick one or two pieces.” But when it comes time to extracurricular activities, parents – who want their children to reach their full potential – often throw this sound thinking out the window.
Emotionally, children need meaningful relationships with their parents – not as cab drivers, but as moms and dads. Family life and school need to be their top priorities. When they bombard you with the ”I wants,” you can help them grow up by having them prioritize and select a couple activities (for preadolescents), with one preferably on the weekend.
Then, after homework, plan simple family activities – cooking dinner together, family movie night, a hike in our lovely Metroparks, a trip to the public library. Three of these examples allow for talking, but don’t jump in there and pepper your child with questions. Let him/her take the lead and practice good listening. Remember a relationship with you is much more important than any extracurricular activity.
When you hear, “But mom, Hannah gets to take tap, ballet and art classes too,” here’s an appropriate response: “Every family has their priorities and this is just right for us.”
Explore our kindergarten and preschool programs. For younger children, our parent/toddler program provides developmentally minded fun.
About the Author:Victoria Todd, LISW-S, Child & Adolescent Psychoanalyst, is a summa cum laude graduate of Case Western Reserve University with a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology and a master’s degree in Social Administration. She developed the “My Mad Feelings” curriculum to prevent bullying by working with children as young as 4 to understand their emotions and appropriately express themselves. A qualified child psychoanalyst, she completed her training at the Hanna Perkins Center for Research in Child Development. A member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, the Association for Child Psychoanalysis and the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center, she teaches classes and workshops at Case Western Reserve University. She served on the Treatment Subcommittee of the Ohio Child Sexual Abuse Grant and was a member of the Guardian ad Litem Advisory Board and the Children at Risk Coalition.