Helping our children schedule their time with various commitments assists them in becoming productive adults. Making so many commitments that they have a difficult time juggling all of them can eventually create so much anxiety for your child that it becomes counterproductive to your initial intentions for them.
Parents help their children to learn healthy limit and boundary-setting, and how to process and self-regulate their emotions. This is what will help them to be resilient adults. In the words of parent educator, Fran Kammermeyer:
“From the moment they are born, children are on a journey…through a long tunnel. The tunnel has firm, but flexible, rubber sides and a golden glow at the far end. Children are attracted to this golden glow like a moth attracted to a flame. They must reach the glow because it promises fulfillment. As they journey…they frequently bounce off the sides then return to the centre and continue on their way. Parents…are the rubber sides, helping children to stay on course…the golden glow is the independence of adulthood. Parents help children to reach their maturity by providing guidance, limits and stability.” (Kammermeyer, 2002, It’s Not a Plot to Drive You Crazy, p. 14)
Parents also need to use boundary and limit-setting around extracurricular activities during the school year. While your children might say that they want to play three competitive sports and take on five extracurricular activities, it doesn’t mean that they should, especially with academic demands. Overcommitted kids can develop high rates of anxiety from having too many obligations. A little tension around performing activities is fine and can contribute to learning, but too much can create feelings of overload and obligation that can play havoc with a child’s mental health. Extracurricular activities are meant to support learning and growth, not to get in the way of it.
One of the most important pieces of learning your child will do during the high school years is the social learning they do while interacting with their peers. Parents often think that hanging out with friends should be last on their child’s list of ‘must-do’ activities, but it’s actually a highly important part of your child’s growth.
Youth learn a lot from discussions with their friends about how they should look, act and feel in a teenage world that is brand-new to them. While they are still learning a lot from parents about life and about the direction they want to take in it, they are also learning this from friends. It’s as important for you to help your child build time with friends into their schedule, as it is to help them build in time for their schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
Tips to Help With Scheduling
Having regular ‘Family Meetings’ and creating a family calendar can be great ways to keep each other in the loop about upcoming activities. They can also save a lot last-minute scrambling to try and fit in something you weren’t aware had to be done!
It doesn’t matter what size your family is. Family meetings can happen with two or with ten family members. The important thing is the feeling of togetherness that having them regularly can bring to your family.
- Schedule the meeting before having a favorite meal or snack, and at a time that works for your family. A nice breakfast, lunch, dinner, or afternoon or evening snack will do nicely. This way everyone has something they can look forward to enjoying.
- Everyone gets a chance to chair the meeting! This can go a long way to helping your kids feel they are an important part of what goes on. Know that they won’t be perfect at it, and that they will be learning as they go along.
- Set some important ground rules, such as: Everyone gets a chance to speak without being interrupted; no name-calling or put-downs; everyone’s ideas are worthwhile, etc.
- Set a realistic time limit for the meeting that works for everyone. If you do this at the beginning of each meeting, it takes everyone’s time into consideration and illustrates good democratic modeling for your children.
- Keep it simple. Organize the meeting around the scheduling of everyone’s activities for the next week. Use a large calendar that you hang in a visible place, so that your family can refer to it.