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Understand Your Child’s Energy Profile and Schedule their life the correct way

Understand your child's energy profile

Every day, do you find yourself concluding your day by reflecting on all the unfinished tasks and contemplating how you will fit them into tomorrow’s agenda? Well, your child might be experiencing a similar overwhelm if their schedule of activities does not align with their personal energy profile. The prevailing culture of achievement and incessant to-do lists often leads to overscheduling, even for very young children.

According to Ana Homayoun, an academic advisor and career development expert, in her new book “Erasing the Finish Line: The New Blueprint for Success Beyond Grades and College Admission,” many kids end up with days filled with transactional experiences and insufficient time and energy for rest, reflection, and open-ended exploration due to this norm.

Recollect, Understand, Act

To understand your child’s energy profile, or even your own, consider these three factors: which activities, experiences, and daily occurrences energize them, which ones drain their energy, and the most effective ways for them to recharge their energy regularly.

Recall the time when your child was a baby or toddler. You likely had a good sense of how their energy fluctuated throughout the day. You easily adjusted their daily routine based on when they needed food, rest, and activity. Surprise! Teens require the same level of attention to managing their energy, but it becomes more challenging for parents to recognize their cues as they gain more independence.

Overscheduling can have negative impacts on children. It can drain their energy, put them in a bad mood, and affect their ability to handle disappointment. In other words, overscheduling may transform your child into a tired and dysregulated grump. Homayoun explains that for many students, this lack of energy can lower self-esteem as they constantly feel the pressure of never doing enough and always needing to be and do more.

Additionally, overscheduling can lead to sleep deprivation. Homayoun cites a 2018 study that examined physical activity, sleep, and screen-time data for 4,520 children across the United States, revealing that nearly a third of them did not meet the recommendations for exercise, sleep duration, or screen-time limits.

Don’t follow any norm, instead customize

Why do parents feel pressured to overschedule their children? As your child grows older, did you find yourself enrolling them in classes and activities simply because it seemed like the norm? Homayoun suggests that our culture of achievement-based perfectionism makes overscheduling feel non-negotiable, as if it is an inherent part of life. The constant bombardment of social media with images of “perfect lives” deludes us into thinking that perfection is the ultimate goal, and we are constantly striving to become “good enough.”

Endless to-do lists cause stress, burnout, fear, overwhelm, and shame for everyone. Anxiety and depression are becoming increasingly prevalent at younger ages, as Homayoun points out.

To tune in to your child’s energy profile, Homayoun provides the following tips:

  • Pay attention to how your child’s energy profile may change over time, considering the numerous changes they undergo, from their bodies to activities to responsibilities.
  • Accept that their interest in and ability to socialize may go through different phases.
  • Understand that there is no single “right” amount of socializing and engagement in activities for kids.
  • Be mindful of your own insecurities and needs that might influence how you perceive and project onto your child.
  • Allow different family members to have different energy profiles, avoiding the pressure to participate in all activities.
  • Connect with other parents and families who are also striving to counter the toxic culture of perfectionism and excessive business.

By focusing on energy management rather than solely time management, both children and adults can better cope with overscheduling and find a healthier balance.

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