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Are We Subconsciously Harming Our Children?

In a changing and extremely competitive society we as parents do our VERY BEST to ensure our children stay above it all. What does this mean?  We send our children to the best schools, feed them nothing less than an all organic diet (or at least we try) and place them in activity after activity to ensure we have all our bases covered!  Swimming, dance, gymnastics, martial arts, sport ball anything and everything we can think of to make our child into this “well rounded” genius!  So what is wrong with this picture?  How is that all we want is the best for our children and want to give them all the experiences possible but could be doing them a DISSERVICE?

I am sure every parent knows what I am talking about?

Busy, busy, busy!  We are in a fast paced changing society and we are taking our children along for the ride. Think about this for a moment, we are seeing an increase of children that have high stress, anxiety and behavioral issues being treated with the magic doctor pill. When we were growing up there was none of these issues or at least they were a lot less common. Children were allowed to be children, playing in the neighborhood with only one rule be home before the sun goes down. Maybe as parents we need to step back, take a look in the mirror and say I turned out alright.

When your child is BUSY all the time, do they have time to sit with family? Talk about their day? Process the world around them?  How about engaging in that all important creative play?  What about sharing time with siblings?  Our children are just that….. children.  Sure it is important we teach them the skills they need in life and who knows your child may well be the next   Michael Phelps needed to spend a lot of time in the pool. Fair enough!  I too am not averse to keeping up with society and I certainly do not always heed my own warning.  I too once placed my 3 year old in activity after activity and camp after camp and quickly came to realize that what she really needed was the time (uninterrupted play) to really process the world in which she lives in.  This is what made her happy! So why as parents are we running around like chickens with our heads chopped off from dawn till dusk? When really all our children need to be happy is for us to slow down and give them our undivided attention and time.

So how can we keep up with our society but also ensure our children have the downtime that they need?

1) Limit activities- sure you want your children to participate in anything and everything but maybe try to focus on one or two activities they have demonstrated an interest it.  You can always try the others later; when the other activities end or in a different season (i.e swimming in the summer; skiing in the winter).  

2) Listen to your child- Your child really does know best (sometimes)!  Listen and respect your child.  If it is always a struggle going to an activity, your child does not want to go, or going always causes disruption in your household maybe try the activity again at a later date.

3) Take time to sit and relax- chores aside, zoo visits aside take time to sit on the floor and just PLAY!  Play has always been a critical part of development and we know that; so why not take the time to just play?  Put on that tiara and serve some tea! 

4) Place children in programs/schools where “deliberate practice” is key.  What does that mean?  A program where it is not only about the quantity of what your child is doing but it is also very much about the quality.  Put your children in programs that use experts in the field to deliver the knowledge on the area of speciality.  Join QUALITY programs with EXPERT leaders!

Take the time to evaluate your lifestyle and if some downtime and play is missing, maybe it is time to re-evaluate what is REALLY important.  


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