Locations:
Search IconSearch

How To Help Your Kids (or Teens) Find Balance With Sports, School + Family Life

Counter stress and balance priorities

A child and adult talking

You know the drill (perhaps all too well). Your daughter’s up for school at 6:30 a.m. and out the door in a flash. And after the dismissal bell rings, it’s time to cram in homework and grab a bite to eat. Then it’s gymnastics until 8:30 every evening (well, it’s really past 9 p.m. by the time you get home). And repeat.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Molly Wimbiscus, MD, readily acknowledges, “Families love sports, but parents just need to be aware of the stress it can cause and do what they can to help their kids balance priorities.”

Here, Dr. Wimbiscus provides some advice on how families can provide that balance between sports, family and academic life.

Q: Do you see managing sports activities being an issue for families?

A: Yes — especially for families involved in traveling sports teams, multiple competitions and more than weekly practices. The time commitment and interruption in evening and weekend activities can be a real issue.

Q: So, what are the pros of being involved in sports?

A: There are many good things about being involved in sports, including socialization with peers, a sense of belonging, satisfaction in skill mastery, learning good sportsmanship and working hard towards a goal personally and as a group. And of course, staying active. With childhood obesity an issue, and 1 in 3 children not getting enough exercise, it is a good thing when kids get involved in sports.

Q: What are the major cons you see when talking with children?

A: It can be exhausting if a child is over involved in sports activities. It can interfere with academic success and cause stress. Sometimes the focus on the athletic competition can outweigh the value of the sports activity. It can also interfere in family life, evening activities, diversity of activities and mastery in other areas. And it can easily begin to interfere in sleep schedules if children have evening practices and they have to finish homework. This is why it is so important to be disciplined about staying on a schedule with practices, homework and bedtimes.

Advertisement

Q: How can parents help their kids stay healthy?

A: Always monitor their functioning in academic, social and emotional spheres. If behaviors, sleep patterns, grades, social engagement and emotional responses begin to change, discuss these changes with your child. Be open in talking with him or her and discuss a plan to make things better.

Q: Will kids talk about their feelings of being overwhelmed?

A: Each child is different. Some children may love sports and not recognize the strain it is causing them. Others may be very capable of explaining the stress of their lives. It’s up to parents to recognize issues and to talk with them about it.

Q: What recommendations do you have for finding balance?

  1. Don’t forget your priorities. It is OK to take a day off of the game or a practice if it is a special holiday or family event. Let the coach know beforehand. Sometimes family and personal priorities need to come first.
  2. Many times, less IS more! When parents feel the strain of having too many sporting events and don’t get the personal and family time to check in and engage with their children, it may be time to decide what sports and activities are most important and which ones can be set aside for now.
  3. Your pediatrician can help. If you have tried working out the issues as a family, but still have questions and are not sure how to find that healthy balance, talk to your child’s pediatrician for advice.

Q: What can a parent do to help their children?

A: The time children spend as a family doing fun activities can be just as valuable for self-esteem and skill mastery. Parents can model good sportsmanship for children in many settings. Engage in family and neighborhood sports activities together such as community runs, bike rides, swims, and/or hiking around your neighborhood or the parks.

And finally, remember: Kids learn by example. Try to be a good role model for your kids by staying active and living in a healthy and balanced way. You can be sure that they will catch on!

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Child talking with caregiver on couch
July 12, 2024/Mental Health
Talking To Your Child About School Shooting Drills

‘Active shooter’ exercises may raise both awareness and anxiety

Healthcare provider in scrubs and mask in operating room checking IV line
July 8, 2024/Children's Health
Is Anesthesia Safe for Kids?

Advances in technology and medications have made the process safer than ever

Child crying and screaming, with caregiver handing over a lollipop, with another caregiver with hands on head, stressed
June 27, 2024/Children's Health
How To Deal With Toddler Tantrums: Tips From an Expert

Stay calm, don’t give in and try to refocus their attention

Parent with teen live action role playing in community park, with people walking dogs in background
June 26, 2024/Children's Health
Building Resiliency: 6 Ways To Boost Your Teen’s Confidence and Coping Skills

Integrating coping skills into your teen’s daily routine helps turn self-care into a lifelong healthy habit

Caregiver kneeled down, talking with child in front of school
June 25, 2024/Children's Health
Have an Aggressive Toddler? Here’s How To Manage Their Behavior

Tantrums and meltdowns are normal, but you can help your child manage their bigger emotions

Adult in the passenger seat of car while smiling teen drives
June 19, 2024/Children's Health
Teen Not Talking? Here’s How To Break the Silence

Talking in the car, resisting the urge to judge and asking specific questions can help rebuild rapport

Baby getting nasal irrigation
June 17, 2024/Children's Health
Neti Pot for Babies: Is Nasal Irrigation Safe?

Yes, it’s safe for babies starting at about 9 months old and can help clear nasal mucus

Rainbow-colored heart hovering above healthcare provider's hand, with child sitting in exam chair
June 12, 2024/Parenting
How To Find an LGBTQIA-Friendly Pediatrician for Your Child

Local LGBT centers, online directories, visual cues and gender-affirming care or non-discrimination policies can all be helpful resources and cues

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad