Excessive Silliness in Children

Every child has a silly side, but sometimes the silliness might seem excessive or unwarranted. Though our instincts as adults might be to punish or scold children for being excessively silly, trying to determine the reason behind this extreme behavior is a better choice.

Seeking Attention

According to the Lucy Daniels Center, a mental health services provider for children, research suggests that children are aware of and seek the amount of attention they think is necessary for development. For various reasons, adults don't give children the attention they feel they desire 1. As a result, some kids turn to being excessively silly in an attempt to get attention from parents, teachers and caregivers. Even if the attention they receive from excessive silliness is negative, children who exhibit this behavior are satisfying a need. If excessive silliness as an attention-seeking behavior persists, adults should examine their interactions with the child and attempt to fulfill his need to be noticed.


Some children exhibit excessive silliness as an attempt to combat anxiety. In particular, anxiety related to being at school or day care can cause children to act silly in such settings. If school anxiety remains unidentified and addressed, excessive silliness can escalate and turn into disruptive behavior that leads to the child getting in trouble. In cases of school anxiety, excessive silliness can be partnered with behaviors such as trembling, fidgeting, talking quickly and avoiding eye contact. Adults should look for these behaviors and attempt to help anxious children by accepting and confirming fears through empathetic listening.


Kids with attention deficit might seem excessively silly, often in inappropriate locations and undesirable situations. When high demands to be attentive are placed on children with attention deficits, they often become overwhelmed as their brains go into overdrive. Excessive silliness can be a result of these increases in brain activity, especially in loud, busy or crowded places such as stores. Hyperactive children have also been found to show excessive silliness in class as a result of being expected to pay attention for long periods.

Bipolar Disorder

It is normal for children to have varying moods, but showing extremes on either side can be a sign of a medical condition. Excessive silliness for extended periods, when coupled with dramatic mood swings, can be an indicator of bipolar disorder in children. Children with bipolar disorder often exhibit extreme changes in energy levels, behaviors and mood that begin to cause problems in their daily life. If parents or caregivers notice excessive silliness such as laughing hysterically or acting infectiously happy for no apparent reason in conjunction with behaviors like frequent crying, fast talking, and changes in habits such as over-sleeping or eating, they should consult a medical professional.