Knowing when limits should be set for extracurricular activities - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Knowing when limits should be set for extracurricular activities

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Improved physical fitness, new friends, and higher self-esteem are all good reasons to enroll your children in some sort of extracurricular activity.

In our School Smarts series, Candyce Clifft explores the limits parents should set when allowing their children to do activities outside school.

Extra-curricular activities are valuable, whether it's basketball, cheerleading, or chess club.

Family counselor John Whitfield from Family & Children's Place gives his expertise advice on children and their involvement in extracurricular activities.   

"I think all kids need to have some involvement because that's how we learn social skills and kids definitely need to have some socialization," Whitfield explains. 

However, whatever the activity, parents have to be sure it's right for the child.

Whitfield says, "A lot of times we as parents will get our kids involved in things we wanted to do as kids and didn't get to, so it's important to not put our interests on the kids and have conversations with kids about what they want to do, what they like."

Sometimes children will try an activity only to discover they don't like it. Family counselor John Whitfield says it's important to continually ask your child about whether he or she enjoys the activity, and if not, let the child drop out.

Next, set limits for your child, allowing only the amount of activity the child can handle without anxiety.

"Sometimes when kids get over involved, overwhelmed, you'll see a change in their behavior that they may not verbalize or that they may not even connect to it," says Whitfield. 

A change in sleep patterns, appetite or attitude can be clues to a parent that an activity may be wrong or just too much for a child.

Remember that a child's main job is learning at school which can create its own stress, just as parents' jobs create stress in their lives.

Whitfield suggests, "If their other activities are interfering with their job, their school, then maybe we need to reexamine them, reprioritize."

Whitfield also encourages monitoring your child's activities and the people who supervise them. Parents can drop by a practice or two, attend games or matches.

"If you see activities or behaviors that you don't think are appropriate with a coach, address it or just take the kid out or move to a different league," says Whitfield. 

Finally John Whitfield says, emphasize fun, not winning. The majority of children will never have a chance to become a professional athlete, but they can create great memories and perhaps find life-long hobbies when you focus on the fun an activity provides.

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