The Age of Over-Achieving Kids

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Over-achieving kids are nothing new; however, society seems to celebrate them more than ever. Various institutions pressure parents to raise children who excel in multiple disciplines. 

If you have school-age kids, you know the drill. How many activities are your kids involved in? How many are their friends? Parents seem to feel that they are letting their kids down by not letting them experience everything.

Combat perfectionism with Twin Cities Kids Club membership. A Twin Cities Kids Club membership lets parents raise well-rounded kids without the stress associated with overachieving.

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The Downside of Raising Over-achieving Kids

Parents often think they are doing the right thing by enrolling their kids in every activity. Many people understand these moms’ and dads’ thinking, even if they don’t agree with them. The idea of a son or daughter who does ballet, speaks Mandarin and is a master computer coder is appealing.

The benefits of nurturing your child to become multifaceted are manifold. A breadth of knowledge across many fields creates an interesting, dynamic person. Children whose parents enroll them in many activities have potential to become fascinating, successful individuals.

Parents who want their children to be successful are the force behind many of today’s over-achieving kids. Now, there is nothing wrong with parents who want to raise their kids to have comfortable, secure lives. However, adults responsible for children who feel they need to involve their children in many activities should do so carefully.

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Cut Down on Anxiety for You and Your Child: Don’t Worry About “Resume-Building”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine caution parents against focusing on their children’s “resume-building.” Parents should be wary of fostering an overly-competitive spirit in young children, especially. When adults pressure kids about performing too many activities to perfection, children can become anxious.

Kids who attend what the National Academies consider high-achieving schools confront mental and behavioral health risks, according to that body. By high-achieving schools, the National Academies mean something specific. They refer to schools that emphasize high test scores, participation in many extracurricular activities, and graduates’ acceptance to good colleges.

Children living with this pressure are in the same risk category as those living in poverty. They also share a risk category with their peers who have parent(s) in prison.

Focus on Building Healthy Minds and Bodies, Instead

Parents, adults, and guardians should make healthy development the priority for children. Factors, like eating and sleeping well, should be the pillars around which grownups structure kids’ lives. School-age children require 9-11 hours of sleep a night and should eat a nutritious diet.

Do you want to improve your kid’s problem-solving abilities and emotional regulation? The answer is very simple and straightforward. Free up their schedule. 

Children need between one to two hours of free, unstructured play (note: not the same thing as screen time). Research shows that when kids play on their own, it develops the prefrontal cortex, which controls problem-solving and emotional regulation.

A young family with two toddler children spending time outdoors by the river in summer.

The Benefits of Allowing Failure and Mistakes

The phrase “helicopter parent” refers to parents who hover over their children, ready to rescue them from pain and failure. However, it turns out mistakes are good for kids.

Think of them as “non-catastrophic painful failures;” the phrase “non-catastrophic” is the crucial adjective. When a parent, adult, or guardian allows a kid to experience the negative consequences of a bad decision, they learn. The result is a kid – and later an adult- who understands that bad choices can cause bad things to happen.

A basic cause-and-effect lesson may seem a little basic. Of course, most typically-developed preteens understand that if they don’t share, people won’t like them. 

What they may not quite understand is how to manage their time, energy, and goals. Teach your child adaptive anxiety: how to channel their worries in a productive manner. Let an older child decide how much time they should study for an upcoming test.

If they don’t study enough, and they do badly on the test, they’ll learn to study more next time. When adults allow children autonomy to establish some of their own study habits, kids learn more than the study material.

Easing Expectations

High expectations can start to feel like a trap, both for over-achieving kids and everyone else. Parents who drive kids to achieve and succeed may think of themselves as primarily encouraging them. After all, parents are supposed to teach children how to overcome life’s challenges and obstacles.

When a parent sets out to prevent too much on their kids’ plate, they may worry they’re being overprotective. There can be a delicate balance between coddling a child and protecting their emotional well-being by reducing unnecessary stressors. 

Parents and children alike benefit from broader definitions of success and achievement. Over-achieving kids may be working toward their parent’s idea of achievement, not their own. When a parent insists on their child fitting into the parent’s vision of accomplishment, both parties can end up frustrated. 

A child whose parents have groomed them for Wall Street may end up happier as a pastry chef. They might not be a wealthy Manhattan stockbroker, but they will be supporting themselves doing something they love.

On a side not, if your kids do like cooking, check out our tips for baking with kids here.

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Twin Cities Kids Club Membership Can Be Part of the Antidote to Over-Achieving Kids

Of course, extracurricular activities, lessons, and sports all still have their place. Children are unlikely to ever learn an instrument or sport if they don’t ever have lessons. Furthermore, many extracurriculars encourage physical activity that helps young bodies develop and grow strong.

In an age of over-achieving kids, the important thing is to be in regular communication with your child. Parental mindfulness of the physical and emotional health of their children and their family as a whole makes the difference. Check in with your kids to make sure your family is maintaining the balance between school, extracurriculars, and rest. 

Don’t be afraid of raising over-achieving kids; just remember to do all things in moderation. You can raise a well-rounded, active kid without unnecessary stress, or unnecessary expense.

Take advantage of affordable, accessible activities for your child and your whole family. Sign up for your free Twin Cities Kids Club Membership and begin taking advantage of free and discount activities.

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