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Is 'slow parenting' right for your child?

March 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
From school to sports to music lessons - some kids have more on their calendars than the busiest executives. And all that pressure to succeed may be harmful for kids. That's one thing the "slow parenting" movement hopes to change.Psychologists say that parents today over schedule their kids.

"They have too many appointments," said psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish."The kids come in and throw themselves on my couch. They moan, whine and cry about how stressed out they are."

A growing number of psychotherapists, educators and parents say these jam packed schedules for kids may be doing more harm than good.

"I think there's the feeling of being frazzled. Kind of high anxiety on both the parents' part and the kids' part," said Bernadette Noll, Slow Family Living co-founder.

The "slow parenting" movement advocates cutting activities and adding more play. They say children will grow up to be happier and more successful.

"You could be taking so much in and trying to acquire skills, but if you're never actually taking the time to slow down and really integrate what you're learning it just doesn't get in there in a healthy way," said parenting coach Carrie Contey.

Books, seminars, classes are all popping up. Tara Pitt, a mom of two, is taking a "slow parenting" class.

"I'd like to not just do things because everybody else is doing it, but because we as a family really, truly enjoy doing those things," said Pitt.

Experts say it's easy to start incorporating those concepts into your own life.

"Just taking thirty seconds to ask, just to sit with your child and be there before you get up to make dinner can make a big difference," said Contey.

Clear your kids' schedules and build in free time along with structured activities. Schedule family time like you would any other appointment. And during that family time, really work to connect with your kids.

Lastly, stop trying to be that perfect parent.

"Trust that you are enough for your children, and that what you're doing is enough," said Contey.

If you're a parent and you feel overwhelmed you can now hire a parenting coach. They'll come to your house, downsize your kids toys, and reorganize schedules to help your family find time you didn't know they had.

Other resources that can help parents are: "Free Range Kinds" by Lenore Skenazy, "In Praise of Slow" by Carl Honoré, and "Making a Family Home" by Shannon Honeybloom.