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When people ask why are young people struggling more than ever, one part to my answer is – they are busier than any generation has ever been.

If COVID lockdowns have shown us anything, it is that there is a different pace and way of doing things. I imagine though, that many people have returned to a level of business that was pretty similar to pre-lockdowns. While I’m sure not many are desperate to return to being at home day in and day out, I also know that a lot of people found the slowing down to be really pleasant and enjoyable.

I hear from a lot of families about how busy they feel. And yet that hasn’t seemed to change much in the last decade, and it actually seems to be getting worse. Unlike other blogs, I don’t have any great suggestions – but I do have some information and questions for you to consider:

– The curse of competence. One thing I have seen is when a young person displays skill, aptitude, or ability in one or more areas, there is a desire to explore that. That might be driven by the child, the parent and/or the coach. What this results in is usually an over-commitment, and a sense for the young person of being ‘pulled’ in multiple directions

– Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This follows on from the previous point about potential ability across a number of domains. But it also applies to ‘taking advantage of opportunities’. Just because your child could enrol in an extension program, or join another band, or do extra paid work, doesn’t mean they should

– Sometimes you are going to need to be the bigger, stronger and wiser parent – and say no. I think there is a lot of fear from parents about denying their child an opportunity, but the reverse is also true of over-saturating them in opportunities

– Do your best to project forward when agreeing to commitments. What does that look like over the next 3 months if they now do Saturday morning soccer? Are there other ‘hidden’ commitments e.g. extra rehearsals before a performance?

– Feel confident in the value of unscheduled time. Structure and routine is important, so too is time to decompress

– And finally – the sunk cost fallacy, which explains why when we have heavily invested in something, we feel a significant reluctance to quit/withdraw, despite the fact that a) it may no longer be what we want/need and b) might actually be causing more harm than help. It is never too late for a course correction if that course is ultimately a healthier one

Finding the juggle a bit too much and need some support? Our team of psychologists can help – get in touch with us here: https://www.connectedcc.com.au/make-an-appointment

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At ConnectEd Counselling and Consultancy, we believe that all families, and the communities they belong to, benefit from a little extra care and support. Whether the problems are big or small, we want to make sure everyone has the chance to feel connected – to themselves, to others and to their community. We offer counselling services to young people and families and have immediate availability. If you need some support, get in touch here: www.connectedcc.com.au

(Written by: Dr Matt O’Connor)

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