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      /  Development   /  How much is too much?

    How much is too much?

    momish_blog_unaisa_gani_over_stimulation

    How much is too much?

    You ever noticed, sometimes when there’s a party, your little one is fussier that usual? Or perhaps when you go to a mall, the varying lights and people definitely seems to set them off? Every time there is a little “extra” of something in their environment, they just can’t seem to relax or just listen to your desperate pleas to not cry.

    Similarly, with the toddler, when you decide to take them shopping, they up in the isles and down in the boxes, you give a resigned sigh. At home, if they cry, you give them what they want. If you’re busy, you give them free rein. Or alternatively, they just can’t seem to sit still, so you try to engage them in every activity you can think of-sand, play dough, the fancy unicorn goop, television, music and finally resort to some games of the phone. What ever keeps them occupied right?

    Ever wonder where this all starts from? Let’s go right to the beginning…

    As soon as a child is out of the mama’s womb, they are introduced to an infinite number of stimuli. From a protective, caring and comfortable zone, to one with many types of (mysterious) stimuli- there’s lots of noise, different feelings and most importantly you’re not attached to a tube anymore (gasp!). These are just some of the types of suspected experiences a newborn child goes through. Then comes the different stages of development as the child grows. The child begins to take an interest in the environment, starts to learn what they like and what they dislike. In an attempt to get them moving, you bring in all these colourful and amazing toys. Some can speak, some can dance, while others are bright as a cloudless sky.

    This child looks at this in wonder, wanting more and more, and you are ever obliging, watching your child’s enjoyment. Further down their developmental stage, they are walking, talking, running and they are always eager to get moving. You realise the child needs more and more things to stay regulated- the more they play during the day, the more tired they are at night, and the better they sleep (AKA peaceful sleep for you!). Now the child is of a pre-school going age, you are excited, and they are ecstatic (in some cases. We know there’s always those reluctant ones). As time goes by, you notice that the child is having a hard time adjusting to the school programme. There are complaints that they always need to move, does not listen, keep jumping around the class or just can’t seem to focus during lesson time. And now you’re here… what could be the possible cause?!

    Child stimulation is one that is always relevant- to both new and experienced mothers. A stimulating environment is one of the most integral part of child’s life. It teaches them to learn, to grow-emotionally, cognitively, socially and physically. Considering this importance, why do so many know so little on the topic.

    Stimulation is something that can help in developmental progression, it can allow for increased attention span, enhanced memory and better cognitive processing. Well this is the case if it is carried out in an adequate manner. Considering the good things about child stimulation, what do you think will happen if the child is exposed to too MUCH stimulation or too LITTLE stimulation.
    yep pretty much.

    Many of you may be wondering, what is this over stimulation I am on about. In a nutshell, overstimulation is basically the overload of the senses. It comes from being exposed to too many stimuli within a short space of time. Children are given the opportunity to engage in any type of activity, with little regard to what that activity entails or what type of effect it has on the child’s sensory system. Many cases of overstimulation are seen where the child engages in so many different activities that stimulate the various sensory systems, that they are eventually dependent on the same level of stimulation. Any less and they feel restless and antsy (basically your ants in the pants cases). Most adults look at it as their inability to focus and just that. However when you look deeper into the situation, you come to the conclusion that this child is so used to copious amounts of stimuli, they don’t know how to handle this vacuum which was created by the big number of stimuli in the first place.

    I am sure that many of you have experienced some type of scenario where you child was ‘hyperactive’. And this therefore brings me back to my earlier sentiment. How much is too much? How do you know how much stimulation is enough to adequately regulate your child, so that it is beneficial and not harmful?

    The answer is moderation. Just like any thing in life, moderation is key. If you’re on a diet, you can’t indulge everyday and expect a nice loss at the end of the week, that’s counterproductive. Similarly, with a child, if you overstimulate them, you can’t expect them to be able to sit in a classroom and engage in a structured programme, when they are so used to an unstructured one. Furthermore, it is important to establish an effective routine for the little one from a young age. It allows for smooth transition to the later stages of development and it reduces a whole lot of undue stress later down the road.

    When looking at research regarding this topic, an interesting link that was common was the occurrences of ADHD. According to research, it is more prevalent amongst todays society. And stimulation of the sensory system has everything to do with it.

    So, my parting wisdom to all you wonderful parents out there- do not underestimate the power of play and stimulation. To you it may be just that, but to your precious little one it is their gateway to knowledge.

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