Beware of Overstimulating Your Four and ½ Year Old Child

Parenting September 14, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Parenting Tips for Your 53-54 Month Old Child

Some parents are so concerned with a child’s brain development that they buy expensive educational toys, videos, computers and language tapes. What does research suggest? Save your money. Too many new experiences or too much stimulation can cause stress and hurt a child’s development. Children need freedom to explore on their own terms and not be bombarded with high levels of stimulation, such as watching television or videos.

The brain develops through hands-on experience during a lifetime, but stress can limit this development. Watch your children’s signals to see when they are feeling overly stressed or stimulated. They will:

  • avoid
  • turn away
  • cover their face with their hands
  • cry
  • become upset
  • become frustrated

Then take steps to reduce the stimulation and calm your child. For example, if you gently tickle or play together, what does your child do? Does she stop smiling, laughing, become upset, or turn away? These actions may be signals of overstimulation. Try a gentle hug instead of tickling, or a slower, calmer game.

Learn more about Your Child: 53-54 Months from Just In Time Parenting. You can also go to our Resource Links for additional information on child care and development.

Note to Parents: When reading this newsletter, remember: Every baby is different. Children may do things earlier or later than described here. This newsletter gives equal space and time to both sexes. If he or she is used, we are talking about all babies.
References: These materials were adapted by authors from Extension Just in Time Parenting Newsletters in California, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.