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How busy is too busy for kids?


Child clock imageIt’s so commonplace these days, you may not even stop to think about it.

But if your children seem to be perpetually involved in a whirlwind of scheduled activities, how do you know when it’s time to cut back?

The clues lie right in front of you.

The first thing to do, says Dr. Jennifer Willis, a family medicine physician at Banner Health Center in the community of Verrado in Buckeye, Ariz., is to look for the tell-tale signs of a balanced child: a positive mood, normal sleep pattern and a well-balanced diet.

“No two kids are the same, so the key is to look for what’s routine and normal for your child and whether the pattern has stayed the same or if anything’s amiss,” notes Dr. Willis.

Make time for play
Family time is a must and needs to be slotted in as a priority when charting out a child’s schedule, advises Dr. Willis.

Staying involved in a fun way in your child’s life helps with bonding closely and reduces stress levels for both kids and parents, adds Dr. Willis.

“What we see a lot is so much time being scheduled for sports and piano lessons and what not, that families forget what it’s like to just sit and eat dinner together,” says Dr. Willis. “A drive-thru together on a sports night doesn’t count.”

In fact, experts recommend limiting kids to one sport per season or one so there’s still time for family dinners a few nights a week.

Listen to your kids
Children can get overwhelmed and feel the pressure to perform when their heart is no longer in the activity, says Dr. Willis.

“That just robs them of their childhood,” she says.

It has other consequences as well.

Children can become depressed or could act out if they’re unable to cope.

Watch for those signs and have a heart-to-heart with your child to make sure that he or she is truly enjoying the activity and willingly going for it.

Four signs your child may be overscheduled

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Anxious or depressed about activities
  • Frequent headaches and/or stomachaches
  • Trouble sleeping

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Willis, at Banner Health Center in Buckeye, Ariz., please call (623) 463-5000  or find a Banner physician near you.

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