Vail Health Magazine 2013 - page 20

Support kids in their
endeavors, but don’t
push them too hard
In the Balance
magine the life a child
could grow up to have
if he or she spoke
multiple languages,
played a musical
instrument, was a
champion skier/
rock climber/endur-
ance runner, had pen pals in 14
countries, earned perfect grades
… and was so busy achieving
things there was no time to sleep,
play or just be a kid. In today’s
nonstop world, children are en-
couraged to engage in school and
in extra-curricular activities. But
there often comes a point when
too much pressure can outweigh
the benefits of participation.
Dr. Leslie Fishman, MD, a pediat-
ric physician at Colorado Mountain
Medical, says kids can become run
down and fatigued from taking on
too much, resulting in increased
stress levels and potential for inju-
ry. He says if kids are pushed too
hard, high stress can affect their
personalities, productivity, sleep
cycles, immunity and weight.
“We see this in the valley,”
says Dr. Fishman. “There are a
lot of high-performing kids, and
when they want to participate
in their activity, everything else
becomes secondary.”
Dr. Fishman says that kids’
peers fuel academic and athletic
competition more than their par-
ents do. A degree of competition
is good, as goals and challenges
can be beneficial for youth. He
says kids who are active in their
schools and communities often
have more well-rounded growth
patterns and relationships.
Keeping priorities straight is
essential to creating balance,
according to Dr. Fishman, and he
says parents must also be aware of
when enough is enough.
“You want to encourage kids
to be active, but you have to be
careful not to take them over the
top,” he says. “It’s important for
parents to listen to their kids and
to make sure that they are doing
things because they want to.”
Kids will express their stress
differently, depending on their
age and personality. Dr. Fishman
says that younger children will be
more overt with their expres-
sions, often crying, screaming or
throwing things when they are
feeling strung out. He says older
children will generally be more
withdrawn and passive-aggressive
about their feelings.
Imbalance occurs when parents
or kids don’t know when to call it
quits. It’s important for a child to
BY Kim Fuller
Photo by Dominique Taylor
Dr. Leslie Fishman says in
the Vail Valley, kids’ peers
fuel academic and athletic
competition more than
their parents do.
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