Your child may say she loves all of her extra activities -- that she loves dance and basketball and jazz band and all of it, but really, she may be overscheduled. Either she doesn't know it, isn't sure of how she is feeling, or doesn't want to tell you for fear of disappointing you. How do you know when your kiddo is doing too much? There are definite signs if you stop and spend a week or two really pay attention to her behavior and habits. A few of the big ones:
-- She loses interest in things that she used to love. This is a big one. Does she still love making ice cream with you on the weekends? Does she still get up and shake her tush when a funny song comes on the iPod? If she hasn't done some of her favorite things in a while and doesn't have joy while doing them anymore, that's a sign of depression and anxiety, which may be caused by overscheduling.
-- She has weird sleep patterns or trouble sleeping. Having a hard time falling asleep or being tired at odd times in the day can be signs her mind can't "knock down" into a relaxed state.
-- She's irritable or has mood swing. Sure, kids will be kids and go through a lot of moods and attitudes. Be on the lookout for when it goes beyond the usual kids stuff, if she goes from happy to irate in seconds over something little -- that is a huge indicator of anxiety and depression.
-- She's overeating and developing bad eating habits. Often, when your family is juggling a crazy schedule, a way to make it work is to pop in and pick up dinner on the go, usually not the healthiest options, but we've all done it. It happens. However, many meals of not-so-great food can start to affect those tastebuds. If you are cooking a healthy meal, and your kiddo steers clear of the veggies and fruits that she used to eat, that can be the beginning signs of a bad eating habit. Look at her snacking, her choice at meals -- and see if it is balanced or out of whack.
-- She complains of boredom when there isn't something scheduled. When kids are used to everything planned out for them, they lose the muscles to play on their own. They forget how to do nothing. Obviously, this is a biggie.
How do you tell if your child is anxious or overscheduled? Share your tips on keeping a good schedule for your kids!