Conventional wisdom is that too many activities are stressful for kids. Not true says recent research. In fact, more activities -- especially a balance of sport and nonsport activities -- are beneficial to kids development.
Sandra Hofferth of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland says she had "started out with a pretty solid belief that lots and lots of activities are bad for children." However the data shows otherwise. Children with higher activity levels were not more likely to experience stress, depression, anxiety or other behavioral symptoms. Its more likely that any negative effects of high activity involvement comes from critical comments and high adult expectations for children, not the activities themselves. (See link for media article).
Other research just published in the 2009 issue of Child Development shows that youths who participate in sports and other non-sports activities have the most positive outcomes, with sports-only youths with moderately positive outcomes and no activity youths the least positive outcomes (Livner, Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2009).
In another article in that same issue of CD researchers found swim coaches who praise the process -- not the outcome -- and foster autonomy are more likely to have swimmers with a higher sense of competence and satisfaction with coaching.
The authors concluded: ...the quality of coaching climate is an important predictor of the developmental benefits of sport participation and that one pathway by which the coaching climate has its effect on initiative and identity reflection is though developing youth self-perceptions. (Coatsworth & Conroy, 2009).