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professionalmom 04:47 AM 07-31-2010
Originally Posted by jen:
I wouldn't disagree with you that pushing children beyond their abilities is too much pressure, but keeping children involved and active in sports and other extra-curricular activities is proven to be a protective factor against substance abuse and drop out rates. Lack of parental involvment is a proven risk factor. It isn't a limited study...I can provide you with numerous, large scale studies that span years.
You are right about being involved in extra-curricular activities AND parental involvement are the best ways to keep kids away from drugs, sex, bad grades, etc. However, I think many parents (not all) use these activites as "babysitters" rather than for their true intended purpose - to have fun and learn social, organizational, and fairness skills. From the studies I have seen, parental involvemnet is the biggest factor in whether a child will veer off course. If the parent(s) is/are there from the time the child gets out of school, through the evening, and on the weekends, extra-curricular activies do not help or hurt. But if the parent can't be there all of that time, then the extra-curricular activities do make a huge difference. However, we also have to be mindful of having them involved with too much stuff. Studies have shown that children who are busy all day with school, practices, events, and homework, with little down time to just have fun, tend to show signs of stress from irritability (just like overworked, overwhelmed adults ) to substance abuse issues (popping uppers just to stay awake) and everything in between. It can also cause them to think that they are worthless unless they take on so much and succeed at everything - making little perfectists. So we need to make sure there is a balance - just enough to protect them, but not enough to overwhelm them. And definitely never make a kid do some after-school activity that (s)he has no interest in. If he wants to be in science club instead of soccer, don't push soccer. If she hates softball, don't push it just because mom did it or mom and think she should. Find their interest and encourage THAT.