3 Ways to Stop Rushing Your Kids Through Childhood

mother and daughters reading
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Slow down.

If you find yourself wondering whether or not something is too much for your child to handle, it probably is. Your kid will be no better prepared for college because he started baseball at age five or began extra math tutoring in kindergarten.

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Children develop at their own pace. To rush them through life with insufficient time to play and act like kids is to rob them of childhood – an essential period of development. Slow down and let them play. They will find their way when the time is right.

Be mindful of development.

It’s important to be mindful of your child’s developmental level when considering programs of interest and screen time. Preschoolers and early elementary age children don’t need a ton of enrichment programs. What they do need (and often lack) is time for unstructured play.

When it comes to screen time, follow the recommended ages (Common Sense Media takes the guesswork out of this for you and even Netflix and Hulu group shows by age level or “kids”) and prescreen everything. I was surprised when a Curious George Halloween special proved too much for one of my kids. All kids are different and it’s important to watch for cues from each child.

Parent the child you have.

All parents get excited about sharing childhood memories with their kids. That’s only natural. But your little boy might not be a baseball player or your daughter might not want to dance. Kids need the space to follow their own interests. Meet them where they are and learn something new!

As for sharing those movies and shows from your childhood … wait until they’re ready. That Stars War moment will come, but don’t try to force it on them too soon. It will only scare them away.

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Play is the work of childhood. All too often we try to speed kids through the best part of childhood because we can. That’s a mistake. Too much pressure too soon sets kids up for a lifetime of stress and anxiety. Let them take their time and enjoy the freedom of discovery that childhood brings. You’ll be sitting at the ball field before you know it.

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3 Ways to Stop Rushing Your Kids Through Childhood

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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