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Overexcitability in children: how parents can help

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Our senses are increasingly stimulated, and through the internet, we have more information at our disposal than ever before. As a result, our brains today have quite a lot of stimuli to process. This influx of stimuli sometimes leads to us becoming overstimulated, and despite individual differences, our children are also becoming more easily overstimulated. That's why you'll find our tips this week on how to counteract it or deal with it as soon as it happens.

How does our brain become overstimulated?

Every stimulus that reaches our senses creates stimuli. From sound and light to taste, smell, and touch. Especially through hearing and our eyes, our attention is increasingly drawn. Think, for example, of a party where many people demand your attention, or the numerous commercials you see on television, the internet, or on the street. These stimuli cause the brain to process information. If our brain has to process too much information, it becomes overstimulated. It may also be that our brain has more difficulty processing stimuli due to fatigue or our physical condition. Finally, some people have specific neurological characteristics that affect stimulus processing. Think of ADHD or Autism.

How do you reduce stimuli for your child?

As soon as the senses pick up fewer signals, the brain will have less information to process. Especially reducing exposure to extreme sensory experiences helps your child's brain to experience fewer stimuli. Think, for example, of loud noises or many flashes of light in different colors. Here are our tips to reduce stimuli before or as soon as your child becomes overstimulated:
  1. Create a calm environment or seek one out: The best way to reduce stimuli is a calm environment with a limited number of sensory stimuli. For example, take a walk in the park or forest, or find the quietest room in the house.
  2. Reduce screen time: Stimuli are increasingly reaching our brains through mobile phones, tablets, computers, or the internet. Our screen time has increased enormously since the introduction of the smartphone in 2008. Every hour we're not in front of a screen results in a significant reduction in the number of stimuli, especially visual ones.
  3. Do a breathing exercise: Imagine that your attention is focused solely on your own breathing for a few minutes. You only perceive stimuli from outside to a limited extent, and you don't have to react. In short, thanks to the focus on breathing, your brain gets a period of rest.
  4. Ensure an adequate amount of sleep and physical activity: Sometimes it's not possible to remove stimuli. In that case, it's even more important to ensure that your child is capable of processing stimuli. Both sleep and physical activity have been proven effective in increasing resilience against stimuli.

How do you deal with the many stimuli your children face today?

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