There are plenty of reasons why it’s worth encouraging your child to become a multi-sport athlete—less chance burnout, fewer overuse injuries, better athleticism overall—but could you ever encourage your youth athlete to do too much? Sometimes we as parents get so focused on exposing our children to as much as we can (including violin lessons, learning foreign languages, ballet class, and drama camp on top of three sports) that we actually over-involve our youth athletes, which is sometimes just as bad as not encouraging them to try anything.
Here’s what one hockey coach had to say about overscheduling our youth atheletes;
Parents sometimes take good advice a little tooooo literally. Their kids are the ones enrolled in 14 different programs, their kids are totally spent trying to keep up with all that’s on their plate, and their kids tend to be the proverbial “masters of none”.
Here are 3 reasons why getting our kids too involved can actually backfire:
1. They never learn how to deal with boredom.
This might sound crazy, but sometimes being bored is a good thing! Being bored teaches you how to make your own entertainment and keep yourself occupied; it’s a lesson in self-reliance! When every second of their day is scheduled your kids for sure won’t be bored, but what happens when the day comes that they aren’t involved in a 101 activities? Will they know how to occupy their time when someone else isn’t there to shuttle them from one after-school activity to another?
2. It’s a lot of responsibilities for a little kid to deal with.
Yes, learning to multi-task and balance multiple responsibilities is a great life skill that all of us have to learn sooner or later, but does an 8-year-old really need to learn time management to quite that level just yet? Between doing homework, weekly chores around the house, and one or two extra activities like swimming lessons and soccer a little kid has quite a full plate! Don’t you like a little down time every now and then? Chances are your youth athlete does too! Sometimes you just need a few hours to do nothing (or just play and not worry about your responsibilities).
3. It’s hard to coordinate an overly-full calendar.
Sooner or later a dance recital is going to coincide with a tennis tournament, so which activity are you going to miss? Someone is going to be a member short that day! Plenty of overscheduled kids come late or leave early to a lot of their activities, trying to squeeze more than 24 hours into a day. While life happens and sooner or later all of us are going to be late, always showing up late or missing practices consistently because the calendar is too full is disrespectful to your child’s coaches and teammates. And what happens when you have two or three kids with overly full calendars?!
There is no “right” amount of sports teams and activities that your child should be involved in. It comes down to what your child (and you) can handle without losing your minds in the process. Yes, we should definitely encourage or children to get more active and try new things but you can’t do everything at once!