Busy and happy

Forget about the “overscheduled child,” concludes a Yale study. Children with organized activities thrive.

In a nationwide random survey of 2,125 5- to 18-year-olds, the study found that the more time children spend in organized activities, the better their grades, self-esteem, and relationship with parents and the lower the incidence of substance abuse. Even high school students with more than 20 hours of activities a week don’t suffer for it, (Yale psychologist Joseph Mahoney) says. The study defines organized activities as adult-led and having a purpose. It includes community service and after-school programs, as well as music, religious education, and sports.

Only 6 percent of the children in Mahoney’s study spend more than 20 hours a week in activities; 40 percent have no activities at all.

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Comments

  1. Indigo Warrior says:

    Children who have some sort of passion, whether “organized” or not, are the ones who succeed. Parents who act as a draft board are doing their kids no favor.

  2. Repeat after me: “Correlation is not causation”.

    I strongly suspect that Mr. (Ms.?) Warrior is right, the kind of kid who enjoys the activities involved in a busy schedule is likely to succeed. (And the kind of child whose family has the wealth and push to get their child involved in lots of activities already has several of the markers for success.)

  3. outback71 says:

    I suspect that involvment in organized activities reflects having parents who are engaged in their child. It’s that engagement which makes the difference.

  4. Exactly. I suspect strongly that kids with good grades, high self-esteem, and a good relationship with their parents are more likely to desire and acquire such activities.

    Kids who do poorly in school are, after all, more likely to be pressured to spend that time studying.

    Kids with low self-esteem aren’t likely to want to do such things.

    Kids with poor relationships with their parents are less likely, I think, to get permission or, at least, the other support like rides and expenditures, related to such things.

    At least, though, this study does tell us that having a lot of activities doesn’t make kids have lower grades, lower self-esteem, and bad relationships with their parents.

  5. Indigo Warrior says:

    Tom West:

    I am indeed male.

    (And the kind of child whose family has the wealth and push to get their child involved in lots of activities already has several of the markers for success.)

    Most of these markers have been set in place long before the child’s birth. Read “Freakonomics”, by Levitt and Dubner.

    outback71:

    I suspect that involvment in organized activities reflects having parents who are engaged in their child. It’s that engagement which makes the difference.

    It’s the synergistic combination of passion on part of the children and engagement/support on the part of parents that works the best. Parents who conscript their reluctant kids into photogenic activities are just making them resentful. It has to be something meaningful to the children. I know of a few talented teens whose “organized” activities are Star Trek conventions and Pokemon tournaments – not violin lessons or ballet or soccer. Are they fated to be any less successful?