Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Limit commitments after school.

What you can do

Select sports and other afterschool activities with your child’s strengths in mind. Limit the number of these activities so your child has enough downtime. Overscheduling can make kids feel overwhelmed. Remember to allow enough time for schoolwork and family commitments.

You can also encourage your child to try new things and stick with them by starting out with activities that have short time commitments, such as a cooking class that only meets once or twice. See if your child is interested enough to gradually increase his involvement over time.

What you can say

“Jacob, it’s time to pick your spring afterschool activity, and there’s a great selection. In the fall you did art once a week and loved that. Remember that beautiful bowl you made me? I love it!”

“You didn’t seem to like the winter art session as much, and Dad and I were wondering if it was because the class met three times a week. Did that seem like too much for you?”

“We noticed there’s an art class this spring that is just once a week. Do you think you might like that better? That way you could keep your piano lesson on Fridays and only have two afternoons a week that have something after school.”

Why this will help

There are lots of reasons why kids can have a difficult time committing to activities. Maybe they have a short attention span. Maybe past experience has led them to develop a fear of failure. Whatever the reason, you can set the stage for continued engagement by selecting activities that interest your child and tap into his strengths.

Limiting the number of activities will keep him from becoming too distracted or “wound up.” This will help him stick with an activity long enough to successfully complete it and develop a sense of accomplishment.

Also, by involving your child in choosing the activities, you’ll be helping him learn how to prioritize his interests and responsibilities.

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