Clothing sensory issues can cause your child to struggle with clothing. Kids who struggle with clothing sensitivities often have difficulty adjusting to brand-new clothes. In this article, you’ll hear a story about how I ultimately learned how to deal with this challenge and how these ideas might help you.
Hi! My name is Jackie, and I’m the host of the HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast. On my podcast, we talk about homeschooling, parenting, and mindset. I’ve also shared an episode that is about my experiences as the mother of a child who has experienced clothing sensory issues.
I know I’m not alone when it comes to kids who are picky about their clothing, so I thought I’d share this story. If you find yourself feeling frustrated by trying to find clothing that your child will wear, hopefully, this article can help.
What Are Sensory Processing Issues?
Sensory processing issues occur when the brain has difficulty interpreting signals from the senses. This can lead to difficulties with activities like getting dressed and handling the sensation of textures, such as clothing materials, on the skin.
These issues can also be accompanied by behavioral problems such as anger, tantrums, and withdrawal. Understanding sensory processing issues can help you support your child by providing activities that address their specific needs. In addition, your understanding of this special need can help you assist your child with their clothing options.
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Do Your Kids Have Clothing Issues?
Have you ever heard these words from your child?
- It doesn’t feel right!
- It itches!
- It’s too tight!
- I don’t like it!
Hearing these words can be frustrating when you just want your child to get dressed.
If this scenario sounds all too common, then keep reading, listen to this podcast episode, or watch the video below.
Do You Have an Out-Of-The-Box Child?
You might have a child who has sensitivity toward various types of clothing. Maybe your child doesn’t like new things, or maybe they don’t like surprises.
If this sounds like your child, then be sure to check out this parenting program.
Do You Need Help with Parenting?
From Meltdowns to Calming Down
Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, average kiddo, or an out-of-the-box kiddo, the Calm the Chaos Online Parenting Membership is incredibly helpful.
You’ll learn parenting skills that have the power to transform your family.
It Took Me Years to Figure Out How to Deal with My Daughter’s Clothing Sensitivity Issues
When my youngest daughter was young, she had some clothing issues. For her, new clothes weren’t exciting, they were stiff, scratchy, and, well – new.
My younger daughter preferred her older sister’s hand-me-downs. However, when her older sister started wearing out her clothes, and there weren’t many hand-me-downs, our problems around clothing were exasperated.
It literally took me YEARS to figure out how to handle this problem effectively.
If you have a child who is easily agitated about how their clothing feels, it’s my hope that the method we eventually stumbled upon will work for you too.
Have You Ever Felt Like Your Child is Ungrateful?
Have you ever felt like your child is ungrateful when you bring home new clothes for him or her?
Do you ever feel embarrassed when you’re shopping with your child?
When you’re shopping, does your child say, “I don’t like it,” to every item you hold up?
Does your child immediately want to remove any new clothing they try on?
If you’ve experienced these clothing issues, you aren’t alone.
While clothing sensory problems might not be the first thing you want to visit about when you get together with friends, believe me, there are many parents and children who are struggling with clothing issues like this every single day.
If you are feeling like your child is more difficult than most kids when it comes to clothing, you might want to get more information about sensory processing. I know when my daughter was young, the term sensory processing wasn’t even in my vocabulary, so getting information about it wouldn’t have been easy for me.
While our article about helping kids make friends is geared toward homeschoolers, it can be helpful even if you don’t homeschool your kids.
Parenting Memberships and Programs to Help You
Throughout this page, you’ll see a variety of programs and resources that might help you with the challenges you are having.
We’ll share a quick list and then a short description of each program.
- Coaching with Jackie. Jackie is a life coach and the founder of HomeSchool ThinkTank. Jackie specializes in helping homeschooling parents. She also helps parents who are struggling with challenging issues in parenting.
- Naturally Recovering Autism. A membership that focuses on healthy eating habits to help kids who have autism.
- Calm the Chaos Parenting Membership. Excellent for parents who have out-of-the box kiddos.
- The Happily Family Parenting Conference. An annual conference that features 25 of the world’s leading parenting experts and researchers.
- HomeSchool ThinkTank’s THRIVE Membership. Excellent for parents who want support while they homeschool their kids.
Depending on your needs, all of these parenting resources are helpful. Click the links above to learn more about each program or parenting conference.
Parenting Kids With Clothing Sensory Issues
Before I proceed, I’m going to preface this by acknowledging that if you don’t have children who struggle with sensory issues, this might seem absolutely ridiculous.
Some people will say, “that child needs to be put in her place.” I completely understand. As a mother, I’ve had these feelings myself. However, there is a point when you realize some methods don’t work with some kids, so you need to do something different to get a different result.
If you don’t have a child who has difficulty with change, loud noises, or clothing that doesn’t fit right, feel free to hop on over to our blog. However, for those of you who won’t judge and can understand this parenting dilemma, please keep reading, this just might help you.
How to Understand Sensory Issues & Minimize Meltdowns
Understanding your child’s sensory needs is the first step toward creating the calm and stress-free family you long for.
Click the button below to learn more about the “How to Understand Sensory Issues & Minimize Meltdowns” poster pack. This will help you understand information that will help you parent your child who struggles with sensory issues.
Kids Who Are Easily Overwhelmed
Some kids are easily overwhelmed. They might not like new foods, new places, lots of noise, or new clothing items.
Certain children take lots of time to get used to new things, even something as seemingly simple as new clothes.
Itchy, Scratchy, Too Tight Clothes
For kids who struggle with a sensory processing disorder, clothing can be problematic.
To put this in perspective, have you ever done a potato sack race? Can you recall how the burlap sack feels scratchy?
Have you ever tried on a pair of shoes that were too tight and just didn’t fit right? When you try on uncomfortable shoes, you want to get them off quickly.
If your child is truly having challenges with clothing, this is probably what new clothes feel like to him or her. For kids who struggle with sensory issues, clothing is often too tight, scratchy, and just doesn’t feel right.
Also, some kids just balk at nearly anything new and anything that they aren’t used to. This can include new clothes. So, while new clothes might seem great to you, for your child, new clothing might be an unpleasant occurrence.
Listen to This Podcast Episode About Clothing Sensitivity Issues
Tips For Getting Your Child Sensory-Friendly Clothing
For some kids, getting brand-new clothes and shopping is fun. But for kids who struggle with sensory sensitivities, trying on new clothes and shopping can quickly lead to sensory overload. Here are some of the best ways that can help you find the right clothing for a child who has a unique sensory system.
- Shop without your child. The large volume of clothing choices, people, and bright lights can easily overwhelm children with sensory challenges.
- If you must shop with your child, go during the store’s quieter times. Stores can be overwhelming to kids with sensory processing issues. Call the store to find out when their quietest times are and plan to go then.
- Get hand-me-down clothing from friends, cousins, and the thrift store. Clothing and shoes that have been gently worn aren’t as stiff as new clothes and will be more comfortable.
After Purchasing New Clothes for Sensitive Kids…
Once you bring the clothes home, you’ll want to be prepared for your child to resist their new clothes. Remember, some kids don’t like change, and new clothes are different. For kids with sensory clothing issues, the clothing you just purchased might also feel stiff, scratchy, and too tight
- Give your child plenty of time to try on new clothes. Simply leave clothes in your child’s bedroom to try on when they feel like it.
- When you purchase brand-new clothes, consider washing them a few times before your child wears them. This will help soften the clothes and make them more comfortable.
- Give your child time to get used to new clothes. By hanging clothes in the closet or putting them in their dresser before your child needs them, your child will have time to get used to them.
- Remove clothing tags. Sensitive children will usually find tags irritating.
- Expect your child to dislike most new clothes and shoes. Kids with sensory processing disorder often don’t like new things or change. Not only are new clothes and shoes stiff, but they are different. Your child needs time to get used to new clothes.
- Manage your own emotions. Before presenting new clothes to your child, expect resistance. Be ready to allow your child to have their own emotions. You want to keep your own mind in a good place. Try to understand that your child is doing the best they know how to do.
These tips and strategies took me a number of years to figure out. They came from my own experiences. I hope these ideas can save you a lot of frustration and heartache.
If You Need Help…
If you want more help, you can listen to my podcast episode about clothing issues, or you can book a coaching call with me. I share more information about my life coaching services for parents further down this page. In addition, I offer an online membership that’s for homeschooling parents. You can learn more about THRIVE here.
What to Look For In Sensory-Friendly Clothing
Sensory-friendly pieces are the softest and most comfortable clothing available.
- Look for soft clothing. Find clothes with soft fabrics, soft seams, and flat seams.
- Find pants with elastic waistbands. This is more comfortable than pants with buttons and zippers.
- Look for comfortable bras. Adolescent girls will prefer a wireless bra or a sports bra. Look for breathable fabrics and natural materials like organic cotton. Be aware of bra straps and closures, as some are irritating for people with clothing sensitivities.
- Purchase seamless socks and underwear. If your child’s undergarments have seams, they may prefer to wear them inside out.
- Figure out what type of shoes your child likes or tolerates well. Click here for more information about footwear for kids with autism or sensory processing disorder.
- Consider purchasing clothes in a slightly larger size than your child needs.
My Method for Dealing with Clothing Issues
If you have a child who struggles with getting new clothes, you might want to try your own variation of the process I’m about to explain. Here’s what I know, this worked for my child.
If you are at your wit’s end, I suggest trying something similar to what I did. It literally took me years to figure out this approach to dealing with clothing issues.
I believe that this method could save both you and your child years of frustration.
Years later, I can say that what I did worked because we don’t have these clothing issues anymore. Granted, my daughter is much older now, but we resolved these issues when they could have continued to be very problematic.
Video: What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Here’s How I Minimized Clothing Issues
If you have a child who is resistant to new clothing, I believe that this strategy can help you and your child. I want you to know that if you can relate to me, there is hope. Remember, this is simply an approach that you can try. This was helpful for my child, and I believe it can be helpful for other families too.
Like most parents, I simply shopped for my daughter when she was very young. However, as she got older, I tried to shop with her. Quite frankly, this was mostly miserable for all of us. At times, shopping with my daughter was downright embarrassing.
It was very difficult to get her to try clothing or shoes on, and she hated nearly everything. As soon as she would put something on, she would exclaim that it was too itchy or too tight. Really, there was a nearly 0% chance of her liking any new clothing.
Throughout her elementary years, shopping with my youngest daughter was too difficult for everyone, so for the most part, I quit doing it. Instead, I shopped for her alone, bought the clothes, and brought them home.
Parenting a Child With Clothing Sensitivity: Shifting My Mindset
After years of experience, I finally learned that my daughter would initially hate most of the clothing and that returns were inevitable. It might take my daughter a couple of weeks to decide what she was willing to wear.
Over time, I realized that I should plan on doing returns. As a result, I bought multiple sizes and options. I had uncertainty about my purchases 100% of the time. You never know if a child who struggles with change and sensory processing issues will eventually accept the choices you’ve made.
It’s important to accept, rather than resist, the uncertainty of choosing clothes for your child. By accepting the reality of your circumstance, you will have better experiences as you help your child with clothing options. This will impact you and your relationship with your child positively.
Ultimately, I realized that when we bought new clothes, we went through the same process nearly 100% of the time. Once I realized this, I was able to eliminate most of my frustration and emotion from the process of getting new clothes for my child.
I simply knew the process and what to expect. I also came to realize that my daughter wasn’t just ungrateful, she truly found lots of clothing uncomfortable and was actually very slow to warm up to new things.
Over the years, I ultimately realized that my child had sensory processing issues. For her, getting new clothes was not a pleasant experience.
Life Coaching with Jackie
If you’re a parent who is struggling, I get you. I’ve been there too. After years of struggling with my own emotions, I started diving deep into mindset work. Learning how to manage my mind better had such a deep and positive impact that I’ve chosen to become a life coach. I did this so that I could better help parents like you.
While I specialize in coaching homeschooling parents, you can sign up for coaching even if you aren’t a homeschooling parent. I find great joy in helping parents who are struggling with out-of-the-box kids improve their relationship with themselves and their children.
What to Do When Your Child Says, “I Hate This…”
I knew ahead of time that my daughter would initially hate almost all of the clothing I bought her. While this used to make me angry, there was a time when I finally understood that getting used to new things was difficult for her, and there was some clothing that she genuinely couldn’t stand to wear.
This used to really aggravate me. I couldn’t understand how I was raising such an ungrateful child. Where was I going wrong?
I now understand that my youngest daughter had sensory issues. I really don’t think she wanted to hate most of her clothes. As Dayna Abraham says in her course, Calm The Chaos, “Your child is not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.” My child was having a hard time, and I needed to help her.
Our Process For New Clothes
- I presented the new clothes.
- She looked at them and hated the new clothes.
- I calmly said, “Alright, they’ll be on the washing machine if you change your mind.”
- My daughter would go get the new clothing a day or two later, look at it, hate it some more, and return it to the washing machine.
- For the most part, I learned to be neutral in my external response (even though I felt irritated inside).
- A few days later, she would get the clothes again, try them on quickly, hate them some more, and return them to the washing machine.
- I maintained neutrality in spite of wondering if I was raising an ungrateful child.
- Eventually, she would try them on again, wear them for an hour or so, hate them some more, and return them to the washing machine.
- I learned that having a “whatever” attitude was the only way through this. Before long, my daughter would get used to some of the new clothes.
- The process kept repeating itself until she was used to some of the clothes and just wore them. I eventually returned what she wouldn’t wear.
How Life Coaching Can Help a Parent Who Has An Out-of-the-Box Kiddo
As a parent of an out-of-the-box kiddo, I struggled a lot with my emotions. Things that should have been easy could be extremely challenging. Oftentimes, I felt extremely frustrated.
I had a degree in physical education and had been a teacher. In addition, I also had training in early childhood development and had taught in a nationally accredited preschool. I felt like I was a really good mom and knew what I was doing.
However, my child baffled me. At times, my emotions got the better of me. Along the way, I started diving deep into mindset work. While I didn’t do this to improve my parenting, I found that learning to manage my emotions better helped me become a much better parent.
I believe that learning about mindset can help every parent, and that learning how to better manage your mind is essential for parents of out-of-the-box kiddos.
When you sign up for coaching with me, I will help you through the challenges that you are having. You will also begin to learn how to manage your mind better so that you can be the parent that you want to be.
A Hint About Helping Your Hypersensitive Child Get Used to New Clothes
Here’s something I figured out. For many years, my daughter wore hand-me-downs. This was actually a blessing in disguise. My youngest daughter’s clothing issues became more apparent when we had to start buying her new clothes.
Here’s why I think new clothes are difficult for kids with sensory processing issues.
- Feel: The hand-me-down clothes & shoes were softer and broken in. As a result, they were more comfortable for my youngest daughter.
- Time: The hand-me-down clothes frequently hung in the closet long before my youngest daughter needed to wear them. As a result, she was able to get used to them by seeing them before she needed to wear them.
- Choice: When my daughter tried something on and didn’t like it, there was no pressure to wear the item or decide if she liked it. She could simply remove the clothing and wear something else. They were hand-me-downs, so I didn’t really care if she wore them or not. I likely didn’t even notice that she chose not to wear some clothes.
- Overwhelm: Kids are easily overwhelmed by too many choices. When I brought home too many clothes at once to try on, my daughter was overwhelmed by the choices. As a result, indecision and angst would take root.
A Final Thought About Clothing and Kids
I want to end with this thought. Imagine that someone told you what you should wear each day.
I imagine my mother coming over to my house, looking in my closet, and saying, “Jackie, I really love how you look in that dress. You are going to wear that today.”
I would probably think, “I don’t want to wear that dress today.”
Geez, I might even throw a fit if my mom insisted that I wear that dress. I want to wear my yoga pants, and that’s that.
End of story!
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