Using SEL to Deal with Overstimulation in Kids

Using SEL to Deal with Overstimulation in Kids

Even for the seasoned adult, it can oftentimes be challenging to deal with all the world’s information. Whether it’s the busyness of life or the scroll of social media, there’s a lot to pay attention to! Unfortunately, overstimulation can be much more trying for children.

According to a Feb 2022 survey by Bits & Pieces, 86 percent of adults surveyed thought excessive screen time leads to overstimulation in kids. Because many middle-schoolers are only beginning to develop self-knowledge, this can create problems with focus and emotional regulation. Unfortunately, it can also be hard for kids to remove themselves from certain situations, leading to discord with their families and fights with siblings.

Fortunately, social emotional learning (SEL) can provide many effective ways for a child to deal with overstimulation. SEL is about awareness and self-knowledge, so it can help your child to recenter themselves. By taking a step back to breath, they’ll be able to deal with what lies ahead.

Limit Technology

With mediums like television, tablets, and smartphones, it’s no surprise that overstimulation in kids can be common. It can be hard to get away from the constant barrage of information that technology provides.

Unfortunately, so much technology can also be an impediment to social emotional learning for kids. Because SEL put emphasis on skills like emotional regulation and mindfulness, the instant gratification of technology can complicate focus.

It’s not possible to cut out technology, but it’s important to limit its impact on your child. While time in front of the television for relaxation or learning is fine, set a daily time limit. Besides screen time, have your child create a gratitude list or write in their journal to instill SEL. It’s these very things that can help them maintain their sense of self and focus.

If you’re looking for useful ways to help your child deal with life’s challenges, visit ThinkPsych to learn more.

Utilize Mindfulness

One of the best ways to deal with overstimulation in kids is through activities that promote calmness and clarity. It’s only through this that a child can get an escape from excess information and be attentive to themselves.

SEL’s focus on practices like self-awareness are best instilled by breathing exercises and utilizing mindfulness. If a child’s feeling excited or anxious, have them take deep breaths for a few minutes to calm down. This will allow them to remove themselves from the emotions of a situation so they can regroup.

Meditation can be more difficult for young children, but even a few minutes a day can be beneficial. This simple practice can help your child learn to calm themselves down so they can navigate life’s more challenging moments. It can even be something they can bring into their adult life to help them deal with day-to-day situations.

Balance Playtime and Downtime

From toddlers to middle-schoolers, children love to play whether it’s a board game or in the backyard. But too much playtime can lead to tiredness or even temper tantrums for your little one. After all, downtime is a necessity for all of us.  

While having your child develop emotional awareness and relationship skills through play is important, it’s equally important that they have time to themselves. It’s in these moments where they’re resting when they have the ability to focus and reflect. Through this time, they’ll learn more about themselves and be able to apply skills like self-awareness and critical thinking.

Instead of too many extracurricular activities, make sure your child has the time to nurture themselves. They can do this by making time for creativity through social emotional learning activities like painting or drawing. By taking a breather for themselves, they‘ll be able to step back from the busyness of daily life.

Visualize Goals

A big part of SEL and having a growth mindset is being able to stay focused on a goal. Fortunately, this type of practice can also help with overstimulation in kids.

Whether a child or an adult, it can be easy to get waded down by details. Overstimulation can leave us too impacted by the moment to deal with the big picture. But by breaking life down into moments and smaller goals, a child can focus on one thing at a time. This will help them succeed at the small goals and big wins that will help them define their purpose.

To encourage social emotional learning, have your child prioritize a weekly goal reflection that will keep them focused. By keeping tabs on their progress, they’ll be able to appreciate what they’ve accomplished and know how far they’ve come!

Teach Them to Say ‘No’

As parents, we don’t like to hear the word ‘no’ from our child. Whether it’s because they don’t want to clean their room or help with dishes, it can be hard to sway a child.

‘No’ isn’t always acceptable, but there are times it’s important for your child to know how to say it. In certain situations, a child can be overstimulated or dealing with too much and may not know how to cope. By engaging in positive self-talk, a child can use social emotional learning to stimulate their self-awareness and self-esteem.

Through understanding their boundaries and learning the power of ‘no’, a child will know how to stand up for themselves. It’s this that will enable them to be honest with others while still doing what makes them happy.

Let SEL Help with Overstimulation in Kids

Social emotional learning may be one of the best ways to deal with the challenge of overstimulation in children. Fortunately, it can also provide the tools your child needs to deal with the hustle and bustle of the world.

Through simple activities like journal writing and weekly goal reflection, SEL helps kids better understand who they want to be. It also gives them the ability to rise above the noise of the things that will only hinder their goals.

If you’re looking for ways to help your child with overstimulation symptoms, our Coping Skills & Feeling posters can be the perfect tool. By assessing how they feel, they’ll be perfectly poised to contend with the hustle of the world!


Old Dominion University. Checking In: Social Emotional Learning Strategies Can Help Reduce Students’ Stress and Anxiety.

Child Mind Institute. How Sensory Processing Issues Affect Kids in School.

Verywell Family. How to Cope With Your Child's Sensory Overload.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.