The pressure to fill every moment of your child’s schedules with meaningful and engaging activities is real. As occupational therapists in Chicago, we witness what sensory overload can (unwittingly) cause on a regular basis. Don’t worry – there’s a way to stop the crazy train. Even before the holidays begin and we all start going off the rails!
This pressure is spurred, perhaps, by a constant barrage of digital and social media. Headlines, articles and ads encourage one sport, class, app or “must-have” game or “must-do“ activity after another. It’s easy for parents to feel an inherent need to keep up with it all; only to end up with children who are overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. A healthy amount of toys and activities is fine but a cluttered childhood isn’t good for anyone. Parents also become stressed when they feel more like Uber and an ATM rather than having time to be a positive influence on their child’s life.
A common OT approach we employ at AZ+A with children who have ADHD, autism, anxiety or sensory disorders is to start simply. Give them more space to explore through play and fewer distractions. “Many of today’s behavioral issues come from children having too much stuff and living a life that is too fast,” says Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids. By simplifying a child’s world, you make room for positive growth, creativity and relaxation.
You also create the opportunity for a deeper connection with your child when there are not multiple gadgets, screens and scheduling conflicts between you. Whether they are three or thirteen, the stronger the bond you build, the stronger your family will be.