Sunday, September 11, 2011


So I was listening to The Current (CBC) the other day, and heard a great story about vibrators...


haha! Just kidding! (actually, the segment really was about vibrators - listen here) But that's not what I'm going to be talking about today.

This post will be about stimulating our children, not ourselves.

When you have a baby, you are told by countless parenting experts that you are supposed to "stimulate" them, through various age appropriate activities. When they're really young, this can be things like tummy time, flashing black and white cards in their faces, shaking rattles and having endless one-way conversations with them (for language development, of course!) As they grow older, stimulation can include playdates, trips to museums and libraries, swimming, gymnastics, play groups....the list goes on.

All of these activities are things that we do to and for our children, and they are supposed to help with many cognitive skills as they grow up. Who knows, maybe there's even research out there that has proven that certain activities lead to smarter kids.

All I know is that many of these activities are overstimulating for certain children - i.e. my child. Too much activity, noise and people usually results in withdrawal, extreme clinginess or tantrums. I've also noticed that these programs seem to expect that toddlers will respond well to 18 different activities in a span of 45 minutes. And the best of them (as voted by other parents) are very, very expensive.

So here is my top ten list of things you can do to stimluate the child who gets overstimulated easily:

10) Go to the park - wide open spaces = less noise

9) Library programs - these are usually much quieter and easier for little ones to follow. And bonus...they're FREE!

8) Play Groups - again, the free factor comes into play here in Ontario. Although slightly busier, they have much less structure than some programs, and allow for a lot of independent and group play.

7) Play Dates - pick a few friends you really get along with, and organize regular play dates with your children. Just stay away from overly competitive Moms who want to get together for the sole purpose of comparing the children's levels of development!

6) Gardening - let them participate in the spring planting, and have them assist throughout the summer with weeding and watering. OK, so they will most likely just want to spalsh around in their kiddie pool, but you'd be surprised at how much they learn! A now knows that our beans, lettuce and tomatoes come from the garden. She's also super excited to go "picking."

5) Family - nothing is more stimluating then a big family get-together. Which is probably why us adults always drink too much...

4) Pets - our family dog provides endless entertainment for our toddler. Most of it involves A yelling at Darcy "sit!" "Come here!" "No, Darcy, drop that!"

3) Hiking - is it really a hike when you walk 3 steps and then stop to admire the moss? Ummm...YES! Kids are so fascinated by nature at this age, and won't be in a very short period of time - indoctrinate them now while you have the chance!

2) Circle Walks - No, they are not walks to a toddler. To a toddler, nothing is better than marching down the street, and promptly turning right around to go in the opposite direction. So you end up going in circles. But you discover many a wonderful thing - like this morning, we stumbled upon a local garage sale, and Mommy bought a ton of Christmas decorations for $7!!

1) And the #1 way to stimulate your overstimulated child....PRETEND PLAY!!!

For example, carry your child around in a bag and call them groceries!


  1. A friend watched a show about overstimulating toddlers with scheduled activities. It encouraged more free play and pretending freely with peers. I have Brennan in library for 8 week sessions but we don't make them all as they're on Monday nights and we're both quite tired on Monday's! I've just signed him up for Mommy and Me Dance on Saturday mornings. We'll see how that goes. I wanted him to have one learning and one movement activity a week. I already feel like 2 is too much!

  2. Great list! E is really enjoying pretend play these days. Play food and pots and pans are the best!

  3. kinda makes you wonder if all this over-stimulation has anything to do with the increased number of children being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and the like???


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