Every good parent knows that providing an enriching environment lays the foundation for future success. Or does it? From summer camp, to instrument lessons, and afterschool programs, how many extracurricular activities are too many and where do parents’ good intentions bleed into something less helpful and even have the unintentional consequence of creating a stressful and anxiety ridden environment for children?
Signs Your Child Is Involved in Too Many Extracurricular Activities
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghOctober 5, 2022 anxiety in children, burn out, Child Anxiety, child counseling, children mental health, Extracurricular Activities for Kids, Overscheduled children, parenting, Parenting and Families, stress, stress management, teen anxiety, wellness for kids0 comments
Warning Signs Your Child Is Involved in Too Many Extracurricular Activities
- Listen to your kids and teach your kids to listen to themselves, helping your child to understand and respond to their emotional cues might be more impactful for their future wellbeing than mastering their tennis swing or perfecting their smooth violin strokes.
- Does your child have a lot of tummy aches, headaches, or have excuses when it is time to practice? According to the Centers for Disease Control, these things can be related to Anxiety. If you notice these patterns in your child, it might be time to have a discussion with your child about whether they want to continue to participate in this activity. any longer or a different variation that doesn’t stress outcome or skill.
- Does the child have time to just be? Just be means having free time that is not structured. Overscheduled children also have overscheduled families, this a form of performance based obsessiveness being passed between generations. Does your child have time to themselves everyday? Do you have time together to be a family? Eat meals together? Have conversations or are your moments spent shuffling from one activity to another, eating in the car then heading to bed when you’re home?
- Has your child verbalized that they don’t want to participate in a certain activity? Has this been a source of conflict between you? Many parents who want what’s best for their child insist that they should stick it out and encourage them to continue with the sport, activity, or instrument. The fine art of parenting is to know what is healthy stick-to-itiveness versus what is pushing past a child’s boundaries or neglecting their emotional needs.
What Parents Can Do When Extracurricular Activities Cause Your Child Anxiety?
- Free play as opposed to goal oriented play activities. While goal oriented activities can help a child develop certain skills, when those skills are scrutinized by parents, coaches or teachers, it can lead to self esteem issues, stress, and anxiety. This is especially true around the age of 12 when kids start to compare themselves to their peers in the formation of identity and self concept.
- Children should not have activities everyday or the week. Many people agree 3 is a maximum, if they want to add one activity then ensure that they drop one.
- If you are going to be organized around a schedule, ensure that the schedule includes, downtime, family time (at least 20 minutes everyday) to play a game, sit and talk, draw or paint together.
- When you are enjoying downtime, don’t make it another journey to a destination, don’t ask what they need to do today or tomorrow and pull your children back into planning and coordinating, instead, ask creative questions. Ie. If you were any animal which would you be? What do you think will make you happy in 5 years? Who is your favorite friend right now? What do you dream about at night?
Good behavior starts from the top down. Let your kids see you practicing the art of doing nothing and enjoying it!
Written by: Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC Founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
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News Feature: Signs Your Child Is Involved in Too Many Extracurricular Activities
Our Therapists’ Personal Tips for How They Avoid Burnout
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 6, 2022 boundaries, burn out, caregiver fatigue, digital detox, Habits that make us happy, holistic health, meditation, mental health, nature therapy, outdoor yoga, relaxation, rituals for self care, rituals to reduce stress, self care, self care strategies for mental wellbeing, stress management, therapists, wellness, yoga0 comments
American Counseling Association has dedicated April as Counseling Awareness Month, a time of advocacy for the profession and celebration of the outstanding efforts of counselors in myriad settings as they seek to facilitate the growth and development of all people. This year’s theme—The Future is… Self-Care, Advocacy and Inclusion #BurnBrightNotOut—is focused on some of the avenues that will help ensure a brighter future for counselors, their clients and the counseling profession.
With the state of the world today and in coping with the last two years, many of us are simply burnt out. You’ve probably been searching social media or the internet looking for how to avoid burnout—well, you’re in luck! We asked our therapists how they personally avoid burnout and they shared their tips with us. They truly are practicing what they preach.
Therapists’ Personal Tips for How They Avoid Burnout
- “Having boundaries where I don’t bite off more than I can chew.”
- “Keeping a good portion of my energy for myself and my life so I’m not running on empty for what I need in my own life.”
- “Balance within my life: tending to myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially. Making sure I connect to these areas and feed them!”
- “Bike riding (indoor and outdoor).”
- “Prayer to help me with clients and for God to watch over my clients.”
- “Downtime for jigsaw puzzles, reading, HGTV, cooking, and my other flow activities.”
- “Exercise and guided meditations. I also try to make self care part of my every day routine.”
- “I try to dedicate the end of the day to at least one self-care activity that ‘cleanses the stress of the day away.’ This varies from day to day but usually always consists of watching an episode of a show with my husband, and then reading before bed. I try to keep screen time to a minimum since I provide sessions via virtual therapy.”
- “I refrain from checking my email when I am not in the office (with the exception of emergencies) and block time on my schedule each day for a self-care activity.”
- “Getting a yoga class in. Yoga helps me to stay centered and grounded.”
- “Going to my own personal therapist.”
We hope you can apply some of these therapist-implemented tips to your own life.
When counselors get the self-care they need, they burn brighter and avoid burnout. To learn more go to American Counseling Association, Counseling Awareness Month.
12 Ways to Take Care of Yourself when your Parent is Terminally Ill
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 1, 2019 anticipatory grief, burn out, caregiver fatigue, grieving the loss of a parent, self care during grief, terminally ill0 comments
12 Ways to Take Care of Yourself when your Parent is Terminally Ill
If your parent is facing terminal illness, you as their child may be encountering some of the greatest stress of your life. The mounds of grief will have presented themselves long before the end of their life comes and while caring for yourself is likely the last thing on your mind, it is the most important thing you should do in these days, weeks, and even years. Here are 12 ways to care for yourself when your parent is terminally ill.
- Be aware of your own guilt, guilt has a way of creeping into everything that surrounds illness, death, and even contributes to complicated grief. If your parent is in the hospital very ill, you may feel guilty to do anything other than sit by their side so compulsively you will stay with them to avoid the burden of your guilt. The thing is with this kind of irrational guilt, nothing you do will ever be enough to stop it from effecting you. You must label your feeling as irrational guilt and accept your need for some balance and self-care in the rush of your parent’s illness.
- Practice mindfulness. One of the ways that our emotions become very unmanageable is the we often want to repress or avoid them. We become so busy with the act of doing that we dismiss the great segment of our humanness that is always feeling. Noticing our feelings and the way the effect our bodies, our breathing, our thinking, is a huge asset especially in difficult moments. Even as simple as observing, “I am angry, I am sad’ can help to reinforce our wellness and prevent us from acting out unconsciously.
- Become versed in grief and learn about anticipatory grief, the actual human tendency to begin grieving the loss of someone we love long before their life reaches its end. Anticipatory grief is one of many kinds of grief that you may notice if caring for a terminally ill loved one.
- Sadness related to bereavement and grief has a way of reordering our priorities to be more aware of what is important. Take advantage of this tendency to make use of it, for instance, the petty grievances that you might feel for a loved one fade aware in the dusk of their mortality and what remains is often love. Trimming the lawn to perfection or finishing the next race may seem less important and what takes center stage is often being with and appreciating others.
- Make sleep a priority, even when your schedule is crumbling and your heart is heavy having good sleep hygiene and making it to your own bed to rest will always be one of the best ways to keep yourself strong, healthy, and emotionally balanced.
- Understand what compassion fatigue, caregiver fatigue and burnout are and how they may be effecting you greatly in this time of immense hurt and stress.
- Eat a balanced diet, if you are rushing around in the hospital or caring for your parent in your home you may not feel you have the time to prepare healthy meals. Make time for them anyways, by fueling your body with nourishing foods you will be stronger and more vital to care for those around you in this difficult time.
- Find acceptance, it is sometimes hard to see that your parent is in the process of dying, instead we may react with denial and anger which make the emotional toll even harder on you as the individual. By stating to yourself that this is in fact the final process of your parent’s life you will be better able to readjust your approach to be sensible and supportive.
- Spend some time in nature. The outdoors from the trees to the grass and the leaves are wonderful teachers when it comes to the spectrum of life, ever watch a small bud unfurl from the soil and see a dry crumbled leaf next to it? That is everything we ever need to know about life.
- Anticipate that stress and sickness often bring out the worst in families, if there are at least a couple of people in your family tree who are notorious for being aggressive, addicted, selfish, or any other socially uncomfortable thing, this will likely present in heightened state. Armor yourself with anticipation and your best efforts for detachment as they visit your parent’s bedside.
- Activate your social supports, let people know what is happening in your life so that they can help. Sometimes we fear burdening other’s so we become silent in our grief. You might find that if you talk to others about what is happening and how you are feeling you will be supported and the sense of connection will help you.
- Make time for exercise, even if you are not a fitness guru, it is a great time to start walking or jogging. Exercise is an immediate help in releasing stress. You will benefit from better sleep and calmer mood if you activate this wellness skill.
Remember that the most important time for self care isn’t when you are bored but when you are busiest and feel that you can’t possibly find a minute in your day as these our the times when we need care the most.Learn More