My family’s schedule has been overloaded with work, school and extracurriculars. We need to drop some of our kids’ activities. How do I tell them they have to quit something?
According to Tim Elmore, Ph.D., author of Artificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenge of Becoming Authentic Adults, you need to first explain the situation and the bigger picture of the family schedule. Tell them that it’s simply not possible to do everything that is currently scheduled and that certain cuts have to be made to make things work.
If possible, try to have this conversation at home before your child goes to the activity for the first time, says Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Growing Friendships: A Kid’s Guide to Making and Keeping Friends. It would be much easier than dropping it midway through. But if you don't have a choice, try to avoid the talk until after a highly anticipated event, like a big game or a recital.
No surprise, but your kids will likely freak out over the news. “Be prepared for their negative reaction and react accordingly, but don’t give in,” suggests Yamalis Diaz, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center. “Just because your child is upset doesn’t mean you have to change your mind.”
Try to let your children pick which of their activities to keep, says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. That way they can stick with their favorites. Or even say that there’s a chance they might pick up this activity again when your family’s schedule is more relaxed. Remember that you don't have to feel guilty because the changes will make things much easier for everyone, especially you. “One of the best gifts you can give your child is a parent who isn’t feeling constantly overwhelmed,” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore.