Helping Overbooked Kids Cut Back

Sue Shellenbarger:

When Debra Cooper’s 6-year-old daughter Taylor resisted taking a family vacation day because she was anxious about missing extracurricular activities, Ms. Cooper decided she was overscheduled and started cutting back.
But stepping off the treadmill wasn’t easy, Ms. Cooper says. When Taylor started coming home after school, there was no one in the neighborhood to play with; other kids were at practices or lessons. Other parents were skeptical, hinting Ms. Cooper was short-changing her daughter. And Taylor herself soon asked to resume some activities. Frustrated, Ms. Cooper wondered, “How do we stop and get off this mommy marathon?”
Written about and discussed for decades, the problem of overscheduled children still looms large. Many parents keep children busy believing that stimulating activities will aid their development; the pattern is most marked among 9- to 12-year-olds. But the trend has gone too far, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in January in the journal “Pediatrics”; kids need more time for free play and family togetherness. Resolving the issue can require some artful life-balancing skills.