Best Way To Deal with an Over Organized Child

You probably recognize the impor­tance of your child using her leisure hours purposefully. Watching a young child fritter away hour after hour in front of the television—staring at a video she has viewed dozens of times already—is extremely frustrating for parents, especially with the plethora of extracurricular opportunities available for children nowadays (such as music, skating, swimming, ballet, drama, gymnastics, soccer, ballet). This type of leisure activity can play an important part in your child’s life.

Learning to move to music in music class or play simple percussion instruments at four years of age, for example, can stimulate a lifelong interest in music. Activities have other ben­efits too. Being a member of groups that involve interaction with other children can help develop your child’s social skills; learning to swim could save her life; appearing on stage for the end-of-year drama show is a great boost to self-confidence. The list of potential advantages is endless.

Over Organized Child Best Way To Deal with an Over Organized Child

You probably encourage your child to be occupied when she’s at home, perhaps by making sure she regularly has a friend over to play after school, so that she is never bored. Most chil­dren enjoy this sort of arrangement.

However, you should place a limit on the amount of free time your child has organized for her—she also needs time to herself. A child with an overorganized day may

  • lose her independence. Every child wants to become indepen­dent, to be able to do things for herself. Part of the process of establishing this independence is making decisions about how free time is spent. An overorganized child is denied such decision-making opportunities, and her independence will suffer as a result.
  • have low self-esteem. Psychological research confirms that a child’s self-respect takes a tumble when she is not involved in making decisions about basic aspects of her life, such as what she eats, what clothes she wears, and with whom she plays. A child who has all her leisure time organized for her by her parents may experience similar feelings.
  • be unable to make decisions. An overorganized child will be so used to having her parents make all the choices for her that she won’t know what to do when she has any free time. Quite simply, when left to her own devices, she may not be able to decide how to entertain herself.
  • be a “jack of all trades and master of none.” Logic dictates that your child has only so many hours in the day to devote to leisure pursuits. Involvement in too many means that she doesn’t have time to become skilled in any of them.
  • appear more tired than usual. A child who spends most of her time actively engaged in leisure pursuits may not have suf­ficient opportunity to rest; she may become overtired.
  • lose interest in her toys. An overorganized child may not have the chance to play with her toys at home because she is so busy. She may even start to feel that there is nothing of interest at home, and that she can only enjoy herself when she is somewhere else or with another child.

These disadvantages outweigh any benefits a child may derive from having an exceptionally busy life. So think about your child’s leisure time and the way it is spent.

To help you judge whether your child’s day is purposefully organized or overorganized, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my child having fun with this activity? If your child has been in a gymnastics class for three years and complains because it’s too difficult to do the moves, perhaps you should con­sider whether she is deriving any benefit from this activity.
  • Does my child look forward to going? Most teachers will tell you that nothing is worse than an unenthusiastic pupil who gets pushed along every week because mom and dad want her to be there. Your child should anticipate the activ­ity with at least some spark of enthusiasm.
  • Is my child being kept busy in order to suit my schedule? Perhaps you have organized your child’s day in order to give yourself free time to pursue your own interests. Nothing is wrong with that occasionally, but don’t let it become routine.
  • Does my child bicker a lot with her friends? Having friends over to the house to play with after school can be great fun, but it may mean that your child doesn’t have enough time on her own. Your child’s dissatisfaction may show itself in irri­tability with the children who come to visit her.
  • Is my child able to structure her free time? One test of whether you are overorganizing your child is to observe her when she has no planned activities and the TV isn’t on. Can your child entertain herself?

Over Organized Child 1 Best Way To Deal with an Over Organized Child

  • Do I spend enough time with my child? Add up the amount of time your child spends in the company of other people (excluding nursery school), and then add up the amount of time she spends just with you. If the total time spent on out-of-home activities is substantially more than the time she spends with you, then your child may be overorganized.

As with every part of child rearing, scheduling your child’s activities is a question of balance. A child who is never allowed to participate in extracurricular classes, or to have friends over, is just as disadvantaged, though in different ways, as an over-organized child. One of your tasks as a parent is to ensure that your child’s full potential is maximized. Structuring your child’s day can be one way to achieve this, but overstructuring it is not.

Leave a Reply