Rhett Smith Podcast 23: The Over-Scheduling of Kid’s Lives, the One Activity, Per Kid, Per Grading Period, and the Importance of Cultivating a Listening Relationship with Your Kids Early On — with Psychologist Dr. Neil Stafford

RSP23I know it’s a cliche and commonplace to say that you are “busy” when someone asks how you are doing. I find myself saying that a lot, and more recently I’ve tried to correct that by questioning why am I so busy? And do I like being busy and do I get something from it?

So I get it. I know we all live busy lives, but something that has been a concern for me since day one of my therapy practice (and probably before then in my ministry experience) was the over-scheduling of our kid’s lives. I work with kids who play multiple sports and often all year round. They are expected to perform on the field and then get straight A’s in the classroom. And on top of that they are expected to be socially well-rounded and involved in all kinds of other activities whether it be youth group, a musical instrument, volunteering, etc. And what this often leads to is just a bunch of burnt out kids. It may not be noticeable at first, but by the time they get to high school and into college you start to see the effects…anxiety, depression, addiction to drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. I have worked with lots of kids who finally had enough and escaped into unhealthy things, or just quit things all together. While many just want a break and struggle to find motivation again.

I decided to bring Dr. Neil Stafford on because he’s a friend, colleague and classmate of mine who has expertise in working with kids and families, and I thought that his position as a psychologist in private practice and on staff of an elementary school made him the right fit to discuss these things.

In this episode we explore:

  • our culture’s obsession with busyness.
  • parents who over-schedule their kid’s lives.
  • parents who work out their “issues” through their kid’s activities rather than working on them on their own.
  • the importance of listening to your kids from a very young age.
  • anxiety, stress, depression, burning out in kids who are over-scheduled.
  • importance of parents sticking to new techniques rather than giving up on them after a few attempts.
  • Meg Meeker’s rule of one activity, per kid, per grading period.

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Resources and Sites Mentioned in this Episode

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

1-2-3 Magic Parenting

Dr. Ross Greene

Center for Collaborative Problem Solving

Live in the Balance

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