Not long ago, I had to stop one of my cheerleaders and tell her to take a deep breath. She was rushing from volleyball practice to make it to cheer practice on time and she was flustered. She had misplaced her volleyball jersey and now her cheer bow was gone. The stress was visibly noticeable on her face.
“Breathe,” I informed her. She nodded, took a breath and grabbed her pom-poms.
She’s not the only youth I coach who is involved in multiple sports or activities. In fact, I have three cheerleaders who play volleyball and one who runs cross country. All of the girls I coach participate in other activities, such as Drama Club, choir, band and even JROTC. That means as a coach, I have to be flexible and understanding because schedules are always changing.
For the youth, it means being prepared and organized. They’re expected to over-communicate and be very responsible with their time. As most parents know, that can be very difficult for kids (especially teenagers) when they’re involved in a lot of activities.
At Boys Town, we want our youth to be involved. If they want to play football, participate in Drama Club and also run for mayor, we encourage it. At the same time, we don’t want them to be overextended or overcommitted.
So how do you know when your child is overcommitted? As a coach, here are the signs I typically look for:
• A drop in grades.
• Failure to complete and turn in schoolwork.
• Looking fatigued and/or stressed out.
• Forgetting the time and location of a meeting, practice or activity.
• Arriving for practice or games unprepared.
When I spot any of these “warning signs,” my first reaction is to talk to the youth. Communication is key, so when you notice your children aren’t acting like themselves, sit them down one-on-one and chat. Sometimes all they need to know is that you’re there and you support them.
At the end of the day, you know your children better than anyone. If you suspect they are overcommitted, intervene. If multiple sports and activities seem too overwhelming, help them choose the ones they like and enjoy the most. It’s better for them to succeed at one or two sports and/or activities than struggle through several.
And don’t forget – every child is different. While one may be able to handle multiple activities, another may not. And that’s okay.
I imagine my days of reminding my cheerleaders to slow down and breathe are nowhere near over. After all, they’re a busy bunch. I just want to ensure they’re also having fun and succeeding.
For some great tips and ideas on how to tell if your child is overcommitted and how to find a proper balance, check out these articles from Boys Town Parenting: