Your laptop overheats and turns itself off how do you overcome this problem?

Serious problem. Or maybe not. Most laptops will auto-shutdown if they get too hot, to prevent damage to the CPU chip. So if it's still shutting down, it hasn't lost it's mind -- yet.

First thing, is it sitting on a blanket or pillow? Make sure the bottom of the laptop is not blocked, that there is free-flow of air underneath, and in the direction of the exhaust fan.

Make sure the fan vents are not plugged with dust. This is especially true if the laptop has been exposed to cigarette smoke (kills PCs faster than it does people), very high humidity, lots of dust, etc.

Get a can of compressed air from any electronics department or store. It's the kind made specifically for cleaning electronics. Using the provided plastic tube, blow the compressed air into the fan vents, all side. Do NOT use regular compressed air, there's a good chance you'll inject a squirt of water in there -- laptop innards hate water.

If blowing it out does no good, and if the fan is not moving air, then it's a trip to the guy with small screwdrivers. If your laptop is out of warrenty, there's a good chance the fan is going/has gone. They can be replaced, but be prepared to pay about $30 for the fan, at least, plus about $100 for the service, depending on rates in your area.

Above all, get it fixed! Soon, the CPU will absorb enough heat damage, it will die completely... you'll be looking at a new laptop at that point, or at least a new CPU/motherboard. More money.