It’s back-to-school season, and with the new school year kids will have the chance to get involved in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get kids to try (and commit to) new activities…but many teens have an over-abundance of enthusiasm for diving into a full schedule of teams, clubs, lessons, and other opportunities.
I recently heard from a woman whose 8th grade son was getting involved in extra-curricular activities for the first time, finding out what he likes and making friends in a way he hadn’t before. Which was all great, but every new dodgeball clinic, basketball team, and robotics program he signed up for was one more place his mom had to drive him! His dad is away on business a lot, and they don’t live near others who could carpool, so she’s the only chauffeur available. After trying it for one semester, she told him that they needed some sanity and to pick just two activities to do the next semester—and he flipped. She explained that not only is it hard on her, but being up late every night, doing homework in the car, and eating only fast food isn’t healthy for him. But he’s unusually upset. According to his mom, you’d think she was restricting him to solitary confinement. She’s wondering what to do.
As the parent of two active kids myself, I feel her pain! And if you find yourself caught up in an unmanageable schedule of extra-curricular activities for your kids, I feel yours too! Before you decide to “accidentally” lose your car keys or lock your teenager in their room before you lose your mind, let’s talk about what’s happening inside theirs. You know that at this age, your teen is embarking on an exciting new life season—but what you may not know is how scared they are of losing it. In my research, I was struck by how much teens and pre-teens are exhilarated and enlivened by this profound new feeling of freedom that they’re experiencing: it rapidly becomes one of the most important and most motivating things in their life.