4 Tips to Avoid Overstimulation this Holiday


It's the most magical time of the year, but too much magic can lead to exhaustion, sensory overload and challenging behaviors!

Overstimulation occurs when there are too many sights, sounds, or activities going on in the environment for a person to handle. The typical holiday season creates changes in routine and diet that when added to the excitement of the season causes overstimulation for both parents and kids. Recognizing the cues for what happens before you or your child becomes overstimulated is the first step to better coping through the holidays.

Here are some simple tips to help ease into the holiday spirit:

Let the kids know what activities are planned ahead of time

End of year school celebrations and the time off over the holiday create a major change in the usual daily routine for kids and parents. Add to that the extra parties, shopping and eating out and even the most adaptable kids can become overwhelmed. Create a routine that includes providing an overview of the plans for busy days along with your expectations for your child that day.

Create a plan for down-time

With so much going on it’s easy to over schedule and forget that kids benefit from having some unstructured time in their day. Plan ahead for down-time and let the kids know when it is.

Schedule screen breaks

Everyone in the family can benefit from taking some time away from electronics and TV each day. If screen breaks aren’t already a part of your family’s routine, start with small amounts of time and build up to longer periods of time. Talk about why it’s important to schedule screen breaks as a self-care strategy, it’s not a punishment. Playing outside, reading a book, playing board games or taking a walk outside are some great ways to get a screen break.

Be flexible

It can be hard to find the balance when there’s so much going on around holiday time. If you notice frustration building, pause for a moment to figure out if there’s a way to change course. Validate your child’s frustration by talking it over and trying to find a compromise. Even if you can’t change course immediately, the few minutes spent talking about it can help to diffuse frustration.