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Pushing Activities Early {Is it too much?}

Recently, my children both had their well visits for the year. They both are in perfect health. However, I found it strange that both the nurse and our doctor asked about the activities or sports my daughter is in. I looked at them slightly baffled.

My daughter, at just four-years-old, is completely and unquestionably healthy. She’s not overweight or lazy. She doesn’t sit on her tablet all day, everyday. She plays like a maniac outside everyday, whether it be with her cousins, at school, or at home. So, why in the world is this such a big deal at the age of four?!

Our doctor insisted that it is important to make sure they are staying active. That she is involved in activities that keep her moving.

As we left the appointment, I asked my daughter if there were any activities she was interested in joining. Soccer was a definite no, as was gymnastics. But, when I mentioned ballet, she lite up.

So, we enrolled in a pre-ballet course at our local activities center. She fit right in. She’s learning new things and enjoying herself for the whole half hour we are there.

But, I did notice something as I observed her class and met some of the other moms. One in particular thought it was amazing that my daughter could tell me what she wanted to do. She was frustrated because her daughter wasn’t really participating in the class. She had asked her if she wanted to leave the class, but her daughter wanted to stay. I found out her daughter had just turned three-years-old.

Let me state, that I find nothing wrong with this situation. However, I looked around at some of the other very young girls whom also didn’t seem interested. It made me wonder a bit if we are in a society now that pushes activities too early?

I get where our doctor came from. In a culture that relies heavily on electronic devices, it can be easy to get wrapped up in binge-watching a show or going down the rabbit hole of a Facebook feed (even on a gorgeously, sunny day). So, enrolling your child in activities forces movement over sitting and staring at a tablet.

But, when did we stop letting kids just be kids? Is it the availability and ease of tablets? Or maybe the pressure that social media presents when we see other moms taking their kids to tee-ball or soccer. Does it make us feel like we are not doing enough?

I know one day (probably sooner than I would like), my kids will want to join different activities in school, whether it be sports, dance, acting, choir, etc. And, I will want them to join those activities, because I did and loved the team atmosphere. But, I was also middle-school age when this happened. I do vaguely remember doing dance as a young girl but eventually, I left to participate in sports at school with my friends.

For now, I want my kids to run around like crazy people. I want them to get dirty outside because they are trying to discover creatures in the mud. I definitely don’t want them to feel over-scheduled or annoyed to fill their weekends with activities.

So, we will keep going to ballet until she doesn’t want to anymore. Once my son is a bit older, if he wants to participate in soccer, tee-ball, or maybe even ballet, we will when he can tell me he wants to do it. The most important thing now, is that they can enjoy just being kids. We all know that too soon, they won’t feel like kids anymore!

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