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Teen With Too Many Extracurricular Activities in High School

By September 23, 2011

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A mom of a teen writes: "Actually, my daughter thinks about the future all the time, because the counselors at her high school keep hammering it in to her that she needs to "figure out what she wants to do with her life" - and she's only 16! And I want her to do chores, but her extracurricular activities keep her so busy - the teachers in charge of them seem to think their activity is the most important. My daughter has been accused of not being "committed" enough because she doesn't spend enough after school or weekend hours on these activities (because she actually needs to study). My daughter still must do some basic chores - set the table, clear the table, load and empty the dishwasher. But she needs just about ever bit of her free time on school activities and studying. I am concerned about so much push about being "the best" in an activity."

Denise's thoughts: With her school load, I think the basic chores she is doing is enough. That said, you may want to talk with her about her schedule and how many extracurricular activities she is signed up for, as she may not be able to keep up that pace and burnout. Too many after school programs isn't going to make her look good to colleges it is going to stress her out. Talk to her and help her find her balance.

Asking our community of parents of teens: Has your teen taken on too much this school year? Do you have some advice for this mom? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments area.

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September 23, 2011 at 9:43 am
(1) Slater says:

I agree with Denise that there is a need to look at the schedule and speaking to the teachers could help also. Finding a balance is important. Stress is not. I teach college students and I see them run into overload and stress a lot. Sometimes they just need someone to guide and coach them. I am a Student Success Coach also. We need more of them. They are at a vulnerable time in their lives. I also understand they need some structure and discipline. But we don’t have to leave it all on their shoulders, not yet, anyway. Guidance is important. Help them find the right path!

September 23, 2011 at 10:21 am
(2) Ivana Pejakovic says:

Denise is right. Balance is the keyword.

The teenage years is the time to learn how to balance 1)professional life (school stuff) 2) home life (chores that need to be done & spending time with family) and 3) personal time (time to self doing whatever person wants). Without a good balance we are more likely to burn out or become dissatisfied with our lives. Also, the patterns and habits we learn in our teenage years are often carried out into adult years.

It is also difficult to set life goals when we are constantly using all our present time to work on immediate activities. This is why we need to balance our time so we have time to think where we would like to set goals. Teens are no different.

Telling teens they need to figure out what they want to do with their life is extremly stressful (this is even stressful for many adults). It is good to encourage them to start thinking about what they want to do based on their values, needs, strengths, and interests. There should be no pressure for things to be figured out at the age of 16…before they even enter university/college. At this stage, life is about exploration and staying open-minded to all paths in life.

September 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm
(3) Sue says:

Saying teens need balance is all well and good, but how do we help them achieve this? Especially when the adult community is pushing these stresses upon them? My daughter, now a senior in HS, had to declare a major *before* entering high school (8th grade), it’s a joke. She is asked consantly, by well-meaning adults, where she is going to college and what is her major. I keep telling her not to worry about it, that is what college is for, to help her find her way. Heaven knows this doesn’t happen in high school any more. Arts programs have been cut, and the students are funneled into specific-study programs. They take extra core classes *as electives* to beef up their academic schedules for colleges. There is little to no ‘trying out’ real elective classes in high school any more. Add to that the pressure to get into college and the uber-focus on that competition and it’s no wonder they are so stressed. Why is there so much focus on SAT and AP scores when College Board is a *business* that sells…test preparation materials? Check out “The Overachievers” by A. Robbins.
My daughter just finished a junior year from he!!, working straight through entire weekends and school breaks to keep up with her academics, they almost have to do this to compete. She nows has a 4.4 and is being recruited by colleges, but I question if the emotional and physical toll was worth it. So, I agree our teens need balance, but perhaps *we* need to work to change the system. Just say’in.

September 24, 2011 at 12:19 am
(4) Deb says:

I think it’s also important for kids to understand that they are part of a community. Part of being in a community is interacting and giving back. Let’s try and teach our kids that it’s not all about them – they need to get out of their heads a bit and live in the real world.

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