LivingIs my child overstimulated? How Overstimulation Affects Babies and...

Is my child overstimulated? How Overstimulation Affects Babies and Children

Overstimulated children, as the word itself indicates, receive excessive stimulation in their daily lives , either because their environment constantly stimulates them, because they make excessive use of screens or because they are enrolled in many extracurricular activities, among other causes.

Thus, overstimulated children can be babies or older children. In this article we include children of various ages and address the keys to determining if our child is overstimulated, what the consequences of this overstimulation are, and what we can do as parents to prevent and/or treat it.

Signs of overstimulation in babies

We are talking about three signs that would indicate that the baby may be overstimulated:

rising cry

A sign of overstimulation in babies is increased crying; thus, the baby begins with a slow escalation of crying until it is so strong that his face turns red.

When that crying is inconsolable, this may indicate that you feel overstimulated.

motor restlessness

Another sign of overstimulation is a baby clenching his fists, kicking and/or waving his arms in the air quickly and jerkily. He may also rub his eyes with his hands or pull at his ears.

Accelerated breathing

When the baby breathes fast, this can indicate that he is feeling overexcited and that he needs to rest .

Keys to detect overstimulation in older children

We can also detect when children who are a little older are feeling overstimulated.

Some keys to detect this overstimulation is to look, for example, at the following:

  • Assess if they are signed up for many extracurricular activities.
  • Observe and listen if they directly verbalize to you that they are tired and that they need to have more free time.
  • See if you notice them clueless or overwhelmed.
  • Observe if they are tired or sad , if they constantly rub their eyes, they yawn often…

Extracurricular activities and overstimulation

In the specific case of extracurricular activities, we know that these, although they are entertaining, can overwhelm children.

Thus, extracurricular activities can be a good complement for the education of our children, because through them they can develop and perfect many skills , but we have to see when these are excessive for them.

On the other hand, with the advancement of technologies and the multiple dangers and concerns that children have a lot of free time implies, the number of parents and caregivers who opt for this type of activity to keep children busy has increased.

And what can be better than keeping children busy while they learn something, right? However, and as we anticipated, when there is an overload of extracurricular activities , this can become counterproductive and negatively affect our children.

This is when overstimulation appears, which, as we have seen, can also arise in other types of situations.

How does overstimulation affect children?

Opting for numerous extracurricular activities, encouraging children to do things , to get out of their comfort zone, to sign up for a thousand plans… or in the case of babies, stimulate them to promote their development, can be very positive for children. kids; but, and as in everything, up to a certain point!

Therefore, we must be very careful not to overload them with this information overload.

On the other hand, when our children are overstimulated for different reasons, we can notice some negative consequences in them. How does overstimulation affect children?

affects concentration

When our son has many activities to do in the day it can be very difficult for him to concentrate on all of them. No matter how hard you try, there will always be some things that you can’t give your full attention to.

This happens a lot, mainly when they go from one activity to another immediately. Well , all their mental processes are focused on the information received, trying to assimilate it, store it in their memory and later be able to apply it.

So, it is easy to understand that it is very difficult for you to be able to focus your concentration on the new information that is presented to you, and it can even affect the one you have just received, since you do not have time to process it.

Overstimulation negatively affects the ability to concentrate; what is known as sustained attention.

Increases anxiety and stress levels

When children have to do many activities, they can feel very pressured to try to do everything well, but as we have seen, this can be very difficult, since concentration is directly affected by overstimulation.

This ends up leading children to begin to feel anxiety, perceiving themselves as not being able to learn , which does not correspond to reality, since it is simply that they are overloaded and cannot retain new information.

“Every child is an artist, because every child blindly believes in his own talent. The reason is that they are not afraid of making a mistake… Until the system gradually teaches them that the mistake exists and that they should be ashamed of it.”

-Ken Robinson-

All this can be the cause of high levels of stress and anxiety that will directly affect their performance in any type of activity they do, and if this is not addressed in time, it can evolve into psychological problems that affect the quality of life of children.

Busy kids, happy kids?

When our children are busy doing activities that are pleasant and of interest to them, they will surely feel happy , and even more so when they manage to notice their changes and progress in what they are doing. So we can say that the premise is true.

But wait, it’s not as simple as that. Well, when our children are in several activities at the same time, they can feel very overwhelmed, and more so if it is something they do not like.

For example, if your son likes tennis and you take him to class he will feel very good, but if you also take him to language, music and theater classes, since these are not his interest areas, he will surely feel overloaded and not you will feel happy.

While as parents we want you to learn as many skills as possible for your future life, it’s critical to understand that it’s not about being “number 1” at everything you do that’s important.

Learning many things is no guarantee of success, let alone happiness. Happiness has more to do with doing fewer things that are truly enjoyable.

what can we do as parents?

Some guidelines that we can apply as parents when it comes to preventing and/or redirecting this situation, in case our children are really overstimulated are:

Prioritize rest time

It is important that our children have time to rest between their daily activities; in this way they will be able to assimilate all the information they have received and consolidate their learning.

Give them time to play freely

On the other hand, it is essential that children have time to play freely, since it is through play that most is learned during childhood.

So do not perceive playing or resting or simply “doing nothing” for a few hours as a waste of time; understand it for what it is: the ideal opportunity for your child to develop healthy and happy.

“Children have to play more with tools and games, draw and build; they have to feel more emotions and not so much worry about problems of their time.”

-William Penn-

let them get bored

Boredom is necessary for the child to find motivation to change that boring situation for another in which he is entertained. In addition, they must also learn to tolerate that boredom , it is healthy!

So, let your child get bored. Begin to get rid of the idea that he “has to take advantage” of time (or in the case of babies, that he has to be constantly stimulated to develop).

Keep in mind that free time is necessary for the child to decide if he wants to play or if he wants to read, draw, paint, dance… or simply rest.

let them choose

Especially in older children, it is important that we offer them the ability to decide for themselves , something that, by the way, encourages their autonomy.

Give them the opportunity to choose what they want to do: spend the weekend in the country or rest? Read a book or sleep? Sign up for an activity or more than one? To which?

This will relieve pressure on him and reduce the chance that he will feel overstimulated. Remember that he is a child , and that he has the right to feel free!

Photos | Portada (freepik), Imagen 1 (freepik)

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