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The Verdict
Balance, stresses Dr. Afridi, is the key. “After school activities should
be a part of a child’s life-but not to the point where they are always
scheduled to do something,” she says and while children can certainly
benefit from exposure to after school activities, it is just as important to
have free time to explore, play, and be creative. Kids also need time to
build family relationships by spending time with parents, grandparents,
aunts, and cousins. They also need to be okay with being by themselves-
if their time is always scheduled then they may not get a chance to
think, dream, create, aspire, or be self-aware. “It is also helpful to ask
your child what they would like to do-this way they are learning early
on to use activity-whether it is creating art, physical sport, or singing
in a choir-as a healthy way to relieve stress and build confidence,” she
reminds.
The Positives
From karate and swimming
to piano, depending on the
activity, according to Dr. Saliha
Afridi, Clinical psychologist
and Managing Director of the
Lighthouse Arabia Community
Psychology Clinic, after
school activities can indeed
be very healthy for the child
to develop physical, social,
and psychological health.
She elaborates, “After school
activities can be great for a
child’s self-confidence, self-
esteem, discipline, and skill
development.” In fact, quite
frequently parents may feel
that their own parents could
not or did not do anything for
them therefore make that extra
effort to provide their children
with every opportunity - piano,
painting, football, ballet, yoga,
swimming, tennis-so every day
of their week is booked.
Some parents, she adds, may
even live through their child-
so their own unfulfilled dream
of being a pianist or a football
star is pushed on to the child.
The Downside
A negative about after school
activities is when parents get
carried away and sign up the
child for too many activities.
They schedule their child every
day with after school activities
which Dr. Afridi notes may
be too stressful for the child,
and/or may not leave the child
with time for free play. “Over-
scheduling children can result
in the child developing mood
and/or stress disorders,” she
says.
“As parents we want to make
sure that we are providing
our child with many different
experiences and skills,” she
says, adding, “We want our
children to know that they
are loved and that they will
have all the opportunities that
money can buy.”
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Oct/Nov 2014