4 Tips to Add Balance to Your Child’s Life

As parents we make every effort to prepare our children for success and challenge them to achieve their full potential. However, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) emphasizes that children need a balance between the demands of challenging academic and extracurricular activities and free and unstructured play.

The new report, The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds, affirms that free time and unstructured play is essential in helping children reach important social, emotional and cognitive developmental milestones. Families are faced with the challenges of a more hurried lifestyle because they are afraid to slow their pace for fear that their children will fall behind in an increasingly competitive world. Michelle Rose, M.D., a pediatrician with AMITA Health Medical Group in Arlington Heights says, “Children need free time, and a hurried lifestyle can be a source of stress, anxiety, and may even contribute to depression in some children.”

Here are 4 tips to help create a balance that supports your child’s healthy development.

  1. Focus on your child’s strengths to help them build confidence. It’s important for parents to understand that each young person does not need to excel in multiple areas to be considered successful or prepared to compete in the real world.
  2. “Parents should focus on supporting an appropriately challenging academic schedule for each child with a balance of extracurricular activities based on each child’s unique needs,” says Alexandra Downing, D.O., a pediatrician with AMITA Health Medical Group in Hoffman Estates. Make sure your child has a mix of study, social and physical time.
  3. Be involved with your child, even if that’s only in the car driving to activities or talking at the dinner table. The AAP report also reaffirms that the most valuable and useful character traits that will prepare children for success come not from extracurricular or academic commitments, but from a firm grounding in parental love, role modeling and guidance.
  4. Build resiliency in your child. To help parents and teens develop resiliency and understand the role of stress in life, the AAP has created a Resiliency Web site. The site features additional information on stress reduction and coping skills, as well as a stress management plan teens can personalize to fit their personalities and lifestyles. Visit aap.org for more information.

“As a mother and a pediatrician, we all want our children to succeed,” Downing said. “The key is to strike a balance to that allows your child to reach their full potential without pushing them beyond their personal limits and also allowing them personal free time.”

AMITA Health Medical Group Pediatrics offers three convenient locations, call for more information or to schedule an appointment:

Arlington Heights – 847.590.1515

Elk Grove Village – 847.228.0460

Hoffman Estates – 847.884.7550