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  • Sarina Shirazee

Overstimulation at Christmas-time

‘Tis the season for overscheduling, overstimulation, behavioural manipulation via the use of an all-seeing Elf, forced hugs and passing babies around like a parcel. I haven't forgotten the positives of the holiday season, but it is sometimes easy for us to forget the potential negatives for kids at this time of year.⠀

Overstimulation (which is when a child is swamped by more experiences, sensations, noise and activity than they can cope with) in particular runs rife at this time of year. Kids cannot tolerate the same amount of sensory input that adults can.⠀

Watch for kids' cues of needing quiet, calm time, whether they're at home, at a social gathering, out looking at Christmas lights, or at their grandparents'. Whining, crying, becoming short-tempered, refusing to do simple tasks, becoming withdrawn and/or telling you that they've had enough, are all signs that your child has probably had enough. Remember, if you see these behaviours, your child is not purposely trying to be difficult, and they need you to take action.⠀

What can you do? Don’t be tempted to pack each day full of activities. One quality (or even not so quality) outing a day, or spending days at home, is perfectly acceptable.⠀

If you’re out and about and see signs of overstimulation, remove your child from the situation. If that’s not possible, keep them close to you, ask or gauge whether they need hugs or space, keep them hydrated, well-fed, and give them time to rest. If you're somewhere you can control the environment, you can try moving away from people, keeping lights low, volumes down, and touch input to a minimum.


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