American culture encourages a lifestyle of non-stop moving. It can add stress when working takes up an adult’s whole life and leaves zero room for rest. Oftentimes when children enter the picture, they add to their parents’ full schedule. How does consistent busyness affect children? What are the effects when our children and teens become too busy?
Anxiety and Fatigue
Children of busy families often find themselves wrestling with feelings of anxiousness and fatigue. Rrely are individuals able to find moments to rest, think, decompress, or process their emotions when their schedules are packed. The overstimulation of their many activities throughout the day leaves them feeling empty and burned out. In this state, children can become whiny and begin acting out. They act out in an effort to communicate to their parents that they are exhausted. Grades of older kids or teenagers may fluctuate as the individuals attempt to regulate their own stress. Symptoms of depression, i.e. excessive sleeping, weight gain or loss, change in appetite, etc., may surface as well.
Children who live busy lifestyles can be emotionally disconnected from those around them, specifically with their parents. Constant movement and activities leave little room for communication and bonding. A lack of quality time puts these children at a disadvantage for connecting with others, as their alone time with parents is limited. The emotional health of a child is greatly influenced by the amount of healthy, supportive relationships they have with both children and adults. Without quality time, these relationships remain shallow, leaving these children feeling alone and misunderstood.
Overuse of Electronic Devices
Busyness culture creates a need for children to be entertained while parents are keeping up with their busy schedules. The most convenient way to keep a child occupied is to give them access to an electronic device. Unfortunately, excessive use of devices can negatively affect children’s “behavioral, cognitive, and social development” (American Psychological Association). These children struggle in school with staying on task, following directions, and socializing, among other things.
It’s Not Too Late To Slow Down!
While you may already be seeing these symptoms in your children, you can start creating space in your schedule now. If your children are participating in too many activities, sit down with them to help them choose just one to participate for the next semester. If they are participating in multiple sports and choosing one is too hard, start by just eliminating one. Slowing down can be done in baby steps. As you create space in your schedule, look to implement activities that encourage relationships and emotional health.
Family dinners can be a great way to grow relationships. Conversations at the dinner table can encourage openness between children and parents, and provide a great opportunity to encourage principles such as encouragement, empathy, and companionship between siblings.
Quiet time can be good to help children adopt the discipline of daily time with God. I encourage parents to help their children build their quiet time. This can include journaling/drawing/coloring, reading a Bible story or memory verse, and prayer. Quiet time is beneficial in two ways; growing their relationship with God and learning to process the events of the day. Children need space to deconstruct their day. Looking at the high and low points of their day, expressing gratitude, and identifying something they learned or are growing in can be helpful in developing a healthy self-awareness.
Family Movie or Game Night
Family movie or game night further facilitates closeness in relationships. Game nights help encourage teamwork between family members by creating a shared goal for everyone to work towards. If you find your children often feeling jealous of one another or like they are competing with one another, I do not recommend choosing games where they are against each other. Movie nights can be a more relaxed alternative to game nights. Making time to discuss things each child enjoyed about the movie can turn a movie into an engaging bonding experience for the whole family.
Our Counselors Are Great Listeners
Kayla Wright is a frequent guest author on this blog. She joined the counseling team at Life Training Christian Counseling in Louisville, Kentucky in May of this year. The passion of her counseling work is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Teens and pre-teens.
Kayla Wright, as well as each of our other counselors, offers convenient sessions at Life Training Christian Counseling in Louisville, Kentucky. She also offers online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime. Please click on this link to learn much more about how our Counseling for teens and pre-teens in Louisville, Kentucky can help the child you love find the highly-effective, Christ-centered help they need. Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org