Why Balanced Kids are Happy Kids

By: Jolene Roehlkepartain

Is your child’s schedule so busy that you spend your days racing from activity to activity, or does your child refuse to get involved in anything? In order to raise kids well, they need a balance of activities. Learn more >

Research shows that successful kids have a healthy balance of the following five activities:

1. Schoolwork. Kids who do their homework tend to do better in school. They also tend to have better mental health and are less likely to use drugs. As a parent, how are you encouraging your child to do homework well every day?

2. Meaningful activities. Which activities is your child involved in? The arts? Sports? School-based organizations? Community-based organizations? In many ways, it doesn’t matter what the type of activity is, as long as it’s something that stimulates your child, helps him or her build skills, encourages him or her to get to know other kids, and gets him or her involved with caring, trustworthy adults. Research shows that kids who are active in meaningful activities tend to have higher achievement, higher self-esteem, and (depending on the type of activity) a lower likelihood of getting involved in drugs.

3. Family time. When does your family spend time together? How often do you eat meals together? How often do you do family activities or have a family night? Putting Families First gives lots of practical, creative ideas on how to spend time together as a family.

4. Social time. Kids need time to play and hang out with their friends. Some, however, either spend too much time socializing or not enough. Finding a balance can be tricky, although it’s important to do. Research shows that when kids spend time with friends who have a positive influence on them, kids are more likely to do better in school, become more altruistic, and are less likely to use alcohol.

5. Downtime. Kids need time to choose what they want to do and to relax. They need time to catch up on sleep, and they need time to just hang out alone. Unfortunately, too many kids today spend their downtime surfing the web, watching TV or movies, or texting. Kids need time to unplug from electronic devices as well.

When you advocate that kids find a balance of activities, they begin to find and create the balance for themselves as they get older. When my kids were in high school, they often commented about other kids who had schedules that were out of balance. Some kids spent too much time doing schoolwork or a specific activity. Some got into trouble a lot because they didn’t have enough to do. As my kids started noticing these differences in their peers, I realized they were taking in what I was teaching: It’s important to have a balance in your life. Everyone struggles with balance, but as long as your mindful about balance, the more likely you and your kids will create a schedule that helps your thrive instead of just merely survive.

Tell Us:——> Do you struggle with finding balance? How do you deal with hectic household schedules?
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Sources:

1. Family First online.

2. Peter C. Scales and Nancy Leffert, Developmental Assets: A Synthesis of the Scientific Research on Adolescent Development (Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 1999).

3. Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, ParentFurther.

4. Image via FALHakaFalLin on Flick’r.

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