For children, the possibilities for learning, exercise, and socializing are almost endless. Being part of a soccer team is an amazing experience, but so is that painting class and so is math enrichment, Chinese lessons, piano practice, homework, and playdates.
But is a full schedule—no matter how rich—making childhood too stressful? And with all of our managing, chauffeuring, and cheerleading making our adulthood unmanageable? While some stress is part of life, the bigger question becomes, is a busy schedule bad for children?
The short answer, according to parenting experts: it depends.
Michael Thompson, a clinical psychologist and the author of “The Pressured Child,” says that the verdict is still out about the harmful effects of a busy schedule. “As a general principle, there is a line between a highly enriched, interesting, growth-promoting childhood and an overscheduled childhood,” he told The New York Times. “And nobody knows where that line is.”
“It’s good for kids to be scheduled,” says Suniya Luthar, a psychology professor at Columbia who studies the role of extracurricular activities in children’s lives. “It’s good for them to have musical activities, sports or other things organized and supervised by an adult.”
While a busy schedule can be enriching, the problem comes when children don’t have enough down time, and when well-meaning parents become overzealous and squash the joy from the activity.
“Spend time with no goal in mind,” says Alvin Rosenfeld, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and an author of “The Over-Scheduled Child. “That will communicate to your child that you love them. And if a child feels loved, life can present them with hardships, but these setbacks will never defeat them.”
Managing busy schedules with a family organizer like Bievo can help reduce stress by keeping everyone—from parents and kids to caregivers and community—on the same page no matter where they happen to be in their day.