How much is too much? UT expert offers tips on kids' extracurricular activities

by Matt Devereaux

Involving children in extracurricular activities builds greater self-esteem and leadership skills. Children learn teamwork, do better in school, and stay healthier.

But a UT expert also cautions parents about over commitment and its detrimental effects.

Too many children experience over commitment, or what is sometimes called "hyper parenting," said Matt Devereaux, a child development specialist and an associate professor in the Department of Family and .

When this happens, it can cause children's grades to slip, make them irritable, and strain relationships with their parents.

"When they hit that breaking point, kids are very stressed," he said. "In today's society, kids are involved in so many activities, more than they can typically handle. Just because you do a lot doesn't automatically make it good. Just like eating, you have to do it in moderation."

Devereaux offers these guidelines for a healthy balance:

Do a gut check—Are you involving your child in many activities because it makes you feel good? Do you hope they'll make your child more successful one day? Does your child really want participate in all of them?

"Parents can be very competitive and they want to compare their children with other families," Devereaux said. "They put their kids on a pedestal."

Be attentive—When children are strained from too many activities, they reach a , but it looks different for each youngster, based on and temperament.

"Research shows that kids are afraid to tell their parents, 'I don't want to do this anymore,' because they think parents might be disappointed in them," Devereaux said.

Limit activities—Children should be doing no more than two activities at a time. If there's only one child in a family, perhaps the family can manage three activities.

"But remember, there's also school," he said.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study: Kindergarten friendships matter, especially for boys

Nov 29, 2011

High-quality friendships in kindergarten may mean that boys will have fewer behavior problems and better social skills in first and third grades, said Nancy McElwain, a University of Illinois associate professor of human ...

Too many U.S. kids lead stressful lives

Oct 09, 2006

The United States has strayed so far from the Victorian ideal of childhood that pediatricians should include "stress checks" in child exams, a report says.

Recommended for you

Suicide risk falls substantially after talk therapy

4 hours ago

Repeat suicide attempts and deaths by suicide were roughly 25 percent lower among a group of Danish people who underwent voluntary short-term psychosocial counseling after a suicide attempt, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School ...

Brains transform remote threats into anxiety

Nov 21, 2014

Modern life can feel defined by low-level anxiety swirling through society. Continual reports about terrorism and war. A struggle to stay on top of family finances and hold onto jobs. An onslaught of news ...

Mental disorders due to permanent stress

Nov 21, 2014

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells will have a damaging effect on and cause changes to the brain. This may result in mental disorders. The effects of permanent stress on the immune system are studied by the ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.