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

September 3, 2012 by Matt Devereaux, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

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: Study: Kindergarten friendships matter, especially for boys

Related Stories

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 ...

How to best help your child lose weight: Lose weight yourself

March 14, 2012
A study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and The University of Minnesota indicates that a parent's weight change is a key contributor to the success of a child's weight loss in ...

Kids' anxiety, depression halved when parenting styled to personality

August 1, 2011
When it comes to rearing children, just about any parent will say that what works with one kid might not work with another. Parents use all sorts of strategies to keep kids from being cranky, grumpy, fearful or moody, while ...

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.

Recommended for you

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

0 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.