How to Prevent Overstimulation as Your Child Plays

May 24, 2023
Preschool kids play with building bricks in while sitting on floor in daycare

Toys and activities that are interesting and stimulating will likely lead to a meaningful learning experience for your child. However, when toys and activities are overstimulating, it can have the opposite effect and lead to them feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Playing can often become overstimulating when your child is exploring something new, when they’re in an unfamiliar environment and when there are too many choices. Fortunately, there are some small adjustments you can make to your child’s play to help them manage these feelings. Here’s how to prevent overstimulation as your child plays.

Remember that Less is More

Start with fewer materials and allow your child to add more as they play. This is especially helpful when introducing something new so that your child can get familiar with the toys, objects or materials. As they become more comfortable and confident, slowly adding more will only be beneficial to their play and learning experience.

Toddler used two hands to hold a spray bottle while spraying water onto a blue table.

Something as simple as a spray bottle with water can make a soothing and meaningful learning experience.

Rotate Their Toys

Children can feel overwhelmed by choices when all their toys are out at one time. It’s ok to put some toys away and bring them out again another time.

Having fewer options available at a time can also enhance their play experience by encouraging your child to use their imagination. Plus, when you bring out a toy that hasn’t been played with in a while it can feel new and exciting all over again!

Expand on Their Interests

Sometimes children have a favourite toy or game they LOVE to play over and over again. A great way to expand on this passion and help ease them into exploring new materials is combining their interests with something new.

Two photos of toys cars. Photo one: a toy car rolling through red and yellow paint. Photo two: Four toy trucks in soapy water.

For example, your child may not be comfortable with water or paint, but when their favourite toy truck is added, they may feel more confident to explore these materials. As an added bonus, they’re finding new ways to play with their favourite toy!

You can also try dimming or turning off some lights and minimizing background noise, like music, while they play.

Our Dim the Lights EarlyON program (pictured below) reduces sensory stimulation while you and your child play and explore. Find out more about Dim the Lights here.

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