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

September 3, 2012 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.

Explore further: Don't spank or scream: Tips for taming unruly kids

Related Stories

Don't spank or scream: Tips for taming unruly kids

June 10, 2011

Do you ever swat your child on the behind? Let’s hope not. Over the past few decades, numerous studies have concluded that spanking isn’t the best or most effective way to discipline a child successfully.

Study: Kindergarten friendships matter, especially for boys

November 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 ...

Recommended for you

Serious research into what makes us laugh

November 24, 2015

More complex jokes tend to be funnier but only up to a point, Oxford researchers have found. Jokes that are too complicated tend to lose the audience.

Psychologists dispute continuum theory of sexual orientation

November 19, 2015

Washington State University researchers have established a categorical distinction between people who are heterosexual and those who are not. By analyzing the reported sexual behavior, identity and attraction of more than ...


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.