Help your kids learn to prioritize

By Alan J. Mundey
Missouri Extension

Have you ever stopped to think, how busy is too busy?  Does your calendar fill up too fast?  Would you be surprised to learn some months are already filled? It is also highly likely that some dates have multiple events. That’s when “priorities” come into play. You may find yourself asking, “How can I possibly be in two places at once?”  Choices have to be made. Do I go to this meeting or that meeting, attend this event or that event, etc.?  I’m sure you get the idea.
Adults learn to juggle their time and their schedules, but have you given any thought to your child’s?  If you have a pre-teen or a full-fledged teenager, you probably know what I mean. It seems as though they are so busy running to sports, band, drama or cheer practice, church events, 4-H or some other organized youth activity that they can hardly catch their breath. Between all the running here and there, time must still be found to work on homework. When is enough, enough?  At some point, you may have to step in and slow them down. We all want our kids to be active and involved in things, but how far do we let them go?  How active do we let them be?  Sometimes it has to be pointed out that they just cannot do everything, but how do you help them decide what to do?
Sometimes, as adults, it is hard to decide what’s more important in our lives. Those decisions are even harder for our kids to make. We have all struggled with having to adjust our schedules to incorporate all that we need, or think we need, to do. Help your child step back and take time to “prioritize” what is most important at this time in his/her life and encourage him/her to leave some time for “them.”
So, how do we prioritize?
An illustration that helps  is one of rocks, pebbles, sand and water. Picture filling a bucket with large rocks. You may put in 4-8 rocks and the bucket would seem full. Is it really full? No, not really. We can fit smaller pebbles between the large rocks, filling up the spaces. Is the bucket full now? No, not really – we can fit sand between the pebbles and large rocks. Is the bucket full now – with rocks, pebbles and sand?  No, not really, for we can still pour quite a good amount of water over the rocks, pebbles and sand.
The illustration is a reminder that if we clutter our days with the water, sand and pebbles, the large rocks will never fit in!
Help your child learn to prioritize and help them live a more stress-free life.

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