"Once, children were to be seen and not heard; today, parenting is America's most competitive adult sport. Kids are showcased. We often hear of a child's accomplishments, but rarely the simple praise, 'He's such a good, or good-hearted, kid,'' said Rosenfeld in a 2007 address to fellow pediatricians. "One hundred years ago, work ended when the sun set. Today, electric lights allow homework to be done until midnight and ice hockey practice to begin before the sun rises. As children's activities have become the center of family life, adult needs have been subordinated."
Rosenfeld has said that while he believes extracurricular activities have many positive aspects for children -- it helps them learn a sense of belonging and fosters self-confidence, he is worried about kids "running ragged."
Clubs and sports teams are increasingly opening up to younger age groups than ever before. It is not uncommon to see a 3-year-old involved in several different groups or teams.
Scotia-Glenville High School Guidance Counselor Kimberlee Shartrand said that for many students, sports and music gives them a sense of belonging that is crucial to a successful school career. She said, especially at the high school level, these types of activities keep kids focused and do not allow for too much free time, when kids can easily be lured into unhealthy activities. Shartrand agreed, however, that parents must follow their kids' lead on how many activities are too many. She said for many children, excelling at one thing they love is what works best.
Shartrand said her best advice for parents is to listen to children and let them choose what they are comfortable with.
"One of the greatest gifts a parent can give is not putting pressure on children to do what they want them to do as far as extracurricular activities. Follow their lead and ensure that they have time to just be kids while they still can," said Shartrand.