Today's USA Today said that nearly 6 in 10 mothers say children are growing up too fast. They attribute the major reasons for this trend to:
Allowing Internet use without supervision - 75%
Dressing kids in age-inappropriate clothing - 74%
Over-scheduling kids' lives - 63%
Giving kids cellphones - 59%
For parents of preschoolers, your kids surely don't have real cell phones yet, and while they may be wizards on the computer, they probably aren't using the Internet. As for age-inappropriate clothing, as toddlers the only thing that may be deemed inappropriate is having them not wearing clothing at all.
So, for your young kids, that leaves over-scheduling kids' lives. While I am a huge proponent of allowing kids to try many activities to see what they enjoy, I am a firm believer in being very careful that you don't get too carried away. From birth to one or two, Mommy and Me classes are a wonderful way to allow your child to interact with other kids their age, while giving you parents an opportunity to socialize with peers going through the same things you're experiencing. One class each week is perfect.
At three or four, your child might show interest in a physical activity, such as a little gym, soccer, dance, or karate. In some cases parents take part in these classes, but there are also options to watch your child as he enjoys these activities without you. Try one and see how your child does. Is he willing to walk in without you? Or, does he seem anxious and cry? Let him determine his comfort level. Assure him that you are on the other side of the window or door watching, and you can't wait to see him having fun with his friends. If you have a friend or neighbor who can join you, that should make him even more comfortable.
I advise parents to allow their children to explore different activities, some physical because exercise is important for every person, but other things too. He will make it clear what he likes, and is good at, and that will help steer the things you sign him up for as he gets older.
Just be careful not to have so many activities at once that he's too tired to appreciate each one individually. Spontaneous moments are often the most special ones for a child and his parent, and if you over-schedule, you won't have the opportunity to enjoy those incredible, unplanned moments.
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