How much is too much? We know when our children have too much sugar, too much excitement and too many gifts. How do we know when they have too much to do? Is there such a thing? If your child is playing sports, learning an instrument, acting in the school play and leading others in scouting, is that too much learning? How do you know when to say when?
I believe that we, as parents and educators, need to take some direction from our children. I also believe that this answer depends on the age of the child. Younger children love to try new activities; do they need to take the activities to the extreme? Does every child who wants to try soccer need to be on a traveling team? Does every child who tries an instrument need to play Carnegie Hall? If your child loves to read, does the child need to read books that are beyond his comprehension? I maintain that the answer here is no. Children need to be children; they need to have time to play; they need to have time to nap; they need to have time to cry. Children need to be kids!
Encourage your children to try new things, but don’t push. Let them call some of the shots. Let them decided if they are ready to go further and explore deeper or if they want to explore other options.
Teenagers might have you going down a different path. They might decide that they need to be captain of the ice hockey team, or editor of the yearbook or the lead in the school play. They might be able to do it all. However, you as the parent should exert some controls. Not all teens can do it all – I don’t know too many adults who can do it all! At what point does the teen crack under pressure?
I believe that we, as a society, push our children too far and too fast. Get the best grades and do the most activities so that you can get into the best college and then get into the best graduate program and then live the best lives. This is a difficult concept for someone young to comprehend: what you do now (at 8?) will determine how happy you are in life. Really? Really? Let’s put life into perspective. What parents really want is to have their children lead happy, healthy and productive lives. How about if we start letting them now? After all, aren’t they living now too?