Inside: Are you wondering if your child is overstimulated? Learn four signs that it’s become a problem and how to lessen it in your child’s life.

A guest post by Rose Morrison

Parents are constantly juggling concerns for their children. You want your kids to do well in school, be kind and grow up to be successful, but the negative impacts of overstimulation can slip through the cracks and affect their future.

Overstimulation prevents your children from fully enjoying their lives. Help your child thrive by understanding the adverse effects of overstimulation and finding possible solutions.

Unsure if your child is overstimulated? Read on for 4 signs that it’s become a problem and learn ways to lessen it in their lives.

child overstimulated

What Is Overstimulation?

Consumerism encourages everyone to buy the latest products and services. There’s nothing wrong with giving gifts to your kids, but an excessive number of them may not be the best thing for their mental health.

Toys introducing visual and physical stimuli can make a child’s brain hyperactive at any age. If their brain isn’t far enough in its eight-year development to process everything, the overstimulation floods their system and leads to problems.

Teenagers can also become overstimulated even if they no longer play with toys. Constant input from their music playlists, video games, TV, and social networks can result in harmful side effects in their lives.

If you want your kids to be happier, it’s helpful to simplify.

child playing on ipad

4 Signs Your Child is Overstimulated

Overstimulation affects children’s physical and mental health. If it continues unchecked, it can cause long-term problems.

The impacts may follow your child into adulthood if they don’t find a better lifestyle balance.

There are a variety of ways that too much stimuli can affect your child. Understanding how it happens and how to mitigate it can help lessen the impacts on your child’s life.

Is your child overstimulated? Here are 4 signs that indicate it’s become a problem.

overstimulated child

1. Heightened Continual Anxiety

Environment-based sensory stimuli aren’t always things you can see or hear. It also includes the sense of touch.

An overstimulated child wearing clothes in an itchy fabric or walking across a floor mat covered in sand will feel continual anxiety that could result in panic, anger, or tears.

Minimizing your child’s environmental stimuli improves their mental health by avoiding this option. Simple solutions like shag carpets that conceal granular substances in long fibers help kids feel physically at ease as they recover from overstimulation.

It’s something parents might forget when reducing visual and auditory inputs, but it’s a crucial way to make sensory overload a thing of the past.

Some young people don’t mind having numerous sensory input sources from their TVs, phones, and video game consoles. They might have a higher overstimulation threshold, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible.

Limiting their technology use to certain hours of the day will prevent continual stimuli from making adverse side effects more likely.

unhappy child

2. Powerful Mood Swings

Imagine listening to five people talking to you simultaneously. You wouldn’t understand what anyone said, and you’d feel more anxious as you become overwhelmed.

Kids go through the same feelings when there’s too much happening around them. Coloring at the table while watching a TV show and listening to their sibling talk could cause them to experience mood swings that cause irritability, anger, frustration, or exhaustion.

This is an especially common reaction for kids who are highly sensitive individuals. It’s a psychological term for people with more sensitive nervous systems, which begin forming in childhood.

Limiting your child’s sensory input to one thing at a time creates a healthier environment for their brain to develop.

Stepping away from TVs, video games and music playlists is an easy way to settle your child’s brain. Head outside together and find a constructive activity.

You might build backyard homes for fairies with natural elements or play on a swing set. Focusing on a solitary task will allow your kid’s nervous system to reset.

child overstimulated

3. More Frequent Boredom

When you rush through a busy day and it finally ends, it feels a bit odd not to do anything. You’re used to running to the next thing, which is a similar experience to overstimulation.

Kids who start doing one thing at a time may feel bored when they’re used to being in sensory overload. They could seek activities to fill that mental void, but the additional inputs cause the problem to form deeper roots.

Extracurricular activities are common ways parents accidentally keep their kids too busy. Clubs and sports help children meet new friends while building their resumes for college applications, so they’re an overall positive thing to add to their lives.

Even though they should have those opportunities, remember that too much social stimuli and an overly busy schedule can overwhelm young brains.

Consider blocking off certain afternoons or days so your kids can relax. That will reduce their stress and give their nervous systems a much-needed break so they can handle stimuli more effectively.

It’s a crucial lesson to take into adulthood so they don’t experience burnout at home or work.

child overstimulated

4. Recurring Temper Tantrums

Whether a child is bored, exhausted, or physically uncomfortable, they may react with a temper tantrum. Those moments become more frequent if their brain feels overwhelmed every day.

It’s not helpful for young children learning to sit through a school day or teenagers already battling mood swings as their hormones change.

Mindfulness is an excellent tool for anyone helping their children avoid explosions like temper tantrums. It encourages your kids to live in the present moment by checking in with their senses.

They’ll learn to identify what they’re feeling instead of just experiencing that emotion. Finding a helpful solution is easier once they can name their emotional state.

Walk your family through this practice by helping them connect with a single sensory input when at ease. You could mindfully chew your food during a family meal and ask them to describe its flavor, texture, and temperature.

Remind them how their emotions are like ingredients for their mindsets. They can use the same inner focus to identify their feelings and find effective ways to soothe negative emotions.

children playing with bubbles

3 Things to Do if Your Child Is Overstimulated

If you’re noticing the signs of your child being overstimulated, there are steps you can take to decrease it in their life. Here are three good places to start.

1. Evaluate their stuff

When children have too many toys and toys that create a lot of noise it can become overwhelming.

Work with your child to declutter their toys. Focus on keeping the ones that encourage creativity and imagination and let go of the ones that are overstimulating.

Going forward consider gifting experiences instead of just more stuff.

2. Reduce technology use

Excessive screen time can immediately cause a child to feel overstimulated. Create boundaries with devices in your home.

Consider delaying when you give your kids access to them. Once they have them, continually reassess how they’re being impacted by them and make adjustments as needed.

It’s helpful when you model healthy boundaries with your devices as children tend to mimic what they see. It will help you to have a more connected family.

3. Create space for relaxation and free time

One more way to help reduce stimulation in your kids’ lives is to review your commitments and declutter your schedule where possible. Determine if you and your family are overcommitted and are spending too much time running from one activity to the next.

Provide time and space for relaxation and free time. It’s in these moments that families build precious memories.

Having downtime and learning ways to both be creative as well as relax is a healthy habit you can help your child learn while they’re young.

child smiling at his mom

Avoid the Negative Impacts of Overstimulation

Taking care of your kids sometimes means removing sources of environmental stimuli. It could strengthen their mental health and improve their quality of life.

Tips like creating family opportunities, reserving quiet time, and initiating conversations will make a meaningful difference as they grow into adulthood. Building these healthy habits will help them to learn balance early in life.

Rose Morrison is a freelance writer who covers home décor and organization tips. She is also the managing editor of Renovated. You can check out her Twitter to see more of her work.

Is your child overstimulated? Reconsidering your schedule can help!

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One Comment

  1. If you do invest in carpet look into something that is safe! Textiles outgas and the chemicals from that are not good for a child (or pets or adults!) Look at the artificial scents and flavorings, and colors in their environment. We all have a toxic load and will get grumpy and sick when we reach it.

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