Question: My 17-year-old son is a very active kid. He is in the middle of his baseball season, and he also plays basketball in the winter. In the fall, he plays football. He is involved in drama in school and is in his church youth group.
How do you know if your teenager is in too many activities? I know you talk about this a lot regarding younger kids, and how too many activities are not good.
But if he can manage it all, it seem to me like it should be OK at this age. What do you think?
Answer: Your son certainly is a busy guy.
With kids, one true sign of being involved in too many activities is a sudden drop in grades.
Is he getting enough sleep? Does he seem low on energy? These can be signs, as well.
It’s hard to balance all of those activities and school work. Kids can get overloaded, just like adults.
My advice in general is that activities inherently are not good for kids.
I know that sounds un-American, but quite frankly, they are not.
They dilute the bond between parents and children when kids are young, specifically children who are 3 to 6.
The smart parent, in my biased opinion, tries to adhere to the simple principle of one activity per kid per semester.
That will keep things within reason.
I am reminded of a chapter I have in one of my books, titled, “Help, I’m a cabbie, and my minivan isn’t even yellow.”
We shuttle kids from pillar to post, telling ourselves it’s good for kids. But quite frankly, too many activities are not.
At age 17, the die is already cast. It’s too late to turn back. He’s going to be off to college soon.
But an important message for him is one of moderation.
If he’s going to pull good grades in college, some activities could be good, but not too many. If your son is as busy in college as he is in high school, his grades are likely to suffer.
So like all things, help teach him how to know just how much is too much.
And for those parents with younger children, have fun together, kicking a soccer ball in the park instead of in formal 4-year-old soccer.
Instead of driving from dance to drama to karate, how about spending the evening at home, having dinner and discussing the day.
Spend time enjoying your kids, without all that crazy rushing around.
You’ll be glad you did.
Dr. Kevin Leman is a Tucson psychologist and author of more than 30 best-selling books, including “Have a New Kid by Friday.” Photo by Tom Spitz Photography.