Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the extra activities your kids are involved in? Do you want more time together as a family? Are you looking to establish a family guideline for activities? Dr. Leman shares his recommendations for extra activities.
One family who was struggling with the behavior of their son told me all the activities he was involved in. Other than school, that young man had something every single night of the week, and he was only 10! My advice to the parents was, “Cut the extracurricular activities. All of them. Instead of taking your son to counseling, stay home and spend time together. The behavior you are seeing is because your son wants and needs your attention. He’s desperate for your attention. And no coach is going to replace the role you have as parents in the life of your child.”
-Dr. Kevin Leman, Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days.
Draw the Line
Your kids won’t draw the line on activities. Your job as the parent is to be wise enough to realize when you are pushing the family towards too many extra activities. Dr. Kevin Leman suggests one activity per semester per kid.
Going from activity to activity doesn’t allow you or your kid the freedom or time to discover their unique gifts. When kids have free time to discover and play, their real talents come out.
Your job as a parent is to help them discover their unique bent while they are living with you.
Busy Hands Equal Happy Hands?
Parents can assume that if their kids are busy all the time, they are happier. Kids aren’t happier because they are busier. They are happier when they are connected to their parents. Connecting with their parents take time.
Busy hands do not necessarily equal happy hands.
Be the Parent Set the Standard
As the parent, you need to realize that your kids crave your attention. In this fast-paced world, your job is to carve out time for valuable relational time: Dinner together, playing together, serving together–yet these require time together as a family.
How to Change
One night this week at the dinner table, talk with the whole family about how you value time with your kids and want the schedule to allow more time to be together.
Establish the family guideline of one activity per kid per semester. Make sure the activity’s time requirements match their stage of life. For example, is a 5:30 am swimming club every morning good for a 6 year old?
Let them decide which activities they want to drop to have more time together as a family. You might be surprised what activities they want and which activities they are doing because they think you want them to do them.
“You dilute your impact on your kids when you put them into too many activities” -Dr. Kevin Leman
Action Steps for Parents:
- Decide on 1 activity per semester per kid.
- Realize your kids won’t draw the line on too many activities. It is your job as the parent to draw the line.
- Beware how much time an activity actually requires.
- Decide how much time per week you and your kids will devote to activities away from the family.
- At the dinner table discuss with your kids the need to protect family time. Clarify the one activity per semester. Let the kid decide which activities to keep, or stop doing.
Bonus Step: The more time you spend with your kids, the greater the chance of recognizing their real talents, like fixing things, communication, etc.
Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer
Kids won’t draw the line on activities, that is your job as the parent.
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