Naper program examine ways to make sure that kids aren’t overscheduled
By David Sharos For The Sun January 15, 2013 8:40PM
Nancy Rivas offered a workshop in Naperville Tuesday night designed to help parents learn about ways to make sure their children don't overschedule their lives. | David Sharos~For The Sun
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:30AM
So much to do and so little time seems to be the mantra for many people these days.
Overtaxed and overscheduled people can sometimes make bad decisions, and Tuesday night, clinical psychologist Nancy Rivas offered a workshop for teens and parents at Naperville Central High School, offering tips about how to sort things out for high school students and their loves one.
“Making Healthy Choices in Our Overly Scheduled Society” was the title of Tuesday night’s presentation offered by the school’s Home and School parent group and members of the counseling staff, who collaborated on the session.
Rivas, 41, who graduated from Naperville North High School, said that people in general today have too many options, referring to it “as the blessings of too much.”
“This is a critical issue for all of us, as we have too much of everything, like we do with eating,” Rivas said. “There is too much technology and so many opportunities, and many people have trouble learning how to say no.”
Parents, Rivas said, have the right to set guidelines and shouldn’t feel that their children need to be involved in multiple activities, but noted also that there really are no guidelines.
“It’s not like there is a lot of research out there about what or how to do this, and parents have a lot to consider,” she said. “It’s an ongoing process, and it involves balance and cooperation.”
Rivas said decisions should be based around a number of parameters including a child’s personality, their developmental age, family values, and the purpose of the activity the child wants to enjoy.
“Someone can play basketball for reasons besides winning, as there is a lot you can learn from that including working with others and how to handle success and failure,” she said.
Amy Barth, part of the team of social workers at Naperville Central, said she has worked in the same capacity for more than a decade and has seen a significant change in students over that time.
“It’s not just the kids here that have gotten caught in the trap. I’ve seen it other places and we get caught in the trap of thinking we have to do all these things,” Barth said. “We’ve added a lot of technology to people’s lives and I’ve seen an increase in students’ anxiety because of it. Kids think their resume just won’t look right if they don’t have this or that activity as a part of it.”
Raquel Martinez is a parent of a senior at Naperville Central who was interested in what Rivas had to say.
“There’s no question kids are under too much pressure today and are expected to do too much,” Martinez said.
Dawn Neylon of Naperville said she works with the 360 Youth Services program and wanted to come Tuesday in order to gauge the feelings of parents in the city on the issue of overscheduled kids.
“I work with drug and alcohol prevention programs, and I like to attend things like this to see what parents are thinking and what they feel the issues are,” she said. “I have three sons who have gone through this school and I can tell you it’s a challenge to balance their time. There are too many opportunities.”
Naperville’s Barbara Garrison said the event was important.
“I worry that I might be putting too much on my grandson who is a freshman here and he wants to be part of everything including becoming an Eagle Scout out of school,” she said. “I’d like him to pick up an honors class each year, but don’t know how much he really should expect to do.”
I want to know if I’m doing the right things.”
Rivas assured the group that finding the answers to these and other questions involves “sharing power” with kids and encouraging them to make good decisions.
“Kids need a forum to practice making good decisions,” she said.