At what point does all the stuff kids have on their schedules and in their lives – school activities, sports, (endless) screen time, apps, games, etc. become too much? Society and the never-ending stream of headlines, articles and ads promoting the latest and greatest “must-haves” and “must-do“ activities makes sensory overload nearly impossible to avoid.
Many parents (and kids) feel pressure to fill their days with activity of some sort. A constant barrage of digital and social media spurs us on to be busy little beavers, or in our case , busy little Cornhuskers. As occupational therapists in Omaha, we often witness the strain sensory overload and over-scheduling puts on children and their parents.
No parent does it on purpose. Ending up with a child who is overwhelmed, stressed and anxious is never the intent. Parents just want to keep up with what’s going on, make sure their chlld(ren) are included and given every opportunity they can provide for them.
It’s easy to discount the importance of family time, dinnertime, and screen-free zones; where talking, not texting, is required. While a certain amount of toys, tech and activities is healthy, an overly cluttered childhood isn’t good for anyone’s growth. By simplifying a child’s world, you make room for positive development, creativity and relaxation.
When you decide to start simplifying, you also make room for a deeper connection with your child(ren). Amazing the space you find when there aren’t multiple screens and scheduling conflicts between you and your family. Whether they are thirteen or three, the stronger the bond, the stronger your family thrives.
One OT approach we use at Zier Institute with kids who have ADHD, autism, anxiety or sensory disorders is to strip away distractions and give them room to explore their feelings. “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.
We agree, life moves fast enough as it is. Slow down and enjoy time with your kids while their young.