Biggest Signs Your Kids Are Overscheduled

Even the kids need a breather sometimes. These warning signs may indicate your little one is too busy.
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All Tuckered Out
We've all heard about the signs to look out for if your kid is using drugs-the glassy eyes, spending less time with friends and family, apathy towards everything-but what if the culprit isn't pills but programming-and too much of it?
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The epidemic of overly scheduled kids has caught the attention of educators, doctors, and child psychologists over the past few decades. And not surprisingly, overscheduling kids leads to the same stress-related health and psychological problems that overscheduled adults experience. According to research, most kids who are overscheduled have parents from an educated, higher income bracket-and they tend to be girls.

There's a middle ground, though, between back-to-back dance classes, soccer games, band practice and church group, and the other extreme: undirected hours of unfulfilling TV-watching and phone-talking.How do you know if your kid is too busy? Watch for these signs:

You Never See Your Kid Just Doing Nothing
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Replay some mental pictures of your child over the past week. If all your images are of him or her on the go-heading to an appointment, on the way back from one, doing homework, practicing an instrument-and there are not many moments of quiet and relaxation, your kid is too busy. "Every hour kids come into my office and throw themselves onto my couch complaining that they are overbooked with too many appointments," says Dr. Fran Walfish, a child psychologist and author of The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building A Better Bond with Your Child. "All they want is down time," she says.

Also See: Doctor's Tips for Keeping Your Kids Healthy

Your Child Has the Constitution of an Old Man
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OK, so maybe there's no hunchback or gray hairs yet, but it's a warning sign if your child looks and acts tired, complains of headaches and pains, isn't sleeping well or "just doesn't feel right," according to Dr. Kate Cronin, a pediatric physician at the Nemours/AI duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware. Irritability and grumpiness are also signs that their life balance is out of whack, she says. Pay attention to those "grumpy old man" symptoms-there might be underlying issues.

Also See: Minor Kid Injuries and How to Treat Them

Your Kid No Longer Loves Her Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream, Flute or Justin Bieber Singalongs
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"One of the surest signs that a kid is overscheduled is when what used to be fun isn't fun anymore," says Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of Crazybusy. "Activities are like ice cream--they're great, but when you have too much, it makes you sick." How can you tell if she's just growing out of a unicorn phase as opposed to protesting an overscheduled life? "They start saying no to everything that used to be fun for them," says Dr. Hallowell. If it's just grumbling about one activity, let it go-but if nothing seems to appeal to them anymore, take notice.

Also See: New Uses for Old Things: Kids Edition

His or Her Grades Are Dropping
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If you can't read your child's face, head to the data-look at the grades. One of the most oft-cited signs for an overscheduled child is that his or her grades start to drop. School should be a top priority, and if activities are sapping a child's time and energy away from homework, something needs to get cut. "I hear of kids getting up as early as 5 a.m. to get their homework done because they didn't have time to finish it the night before due to all their activities," says Cronin. That kind of scenario can't be good for grades.

Also See: Kids' Favorite Bedtime Books

Click to see more signs your kids are overscheduled

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