Does your Child Hate Tags and Jeans and…
Loves Seamless socks? We Should Talk.
“I can’t wear this shirt, the tag is too itchy!”
“I can’t wear these jeans they feel too stiff.”
“I don’t like socks, they are too bumpy!”
If you scour the internet for seamless socks and buy multiple pairs of the same exact pants because your child will actually wear them, you are not alone. There are many of us out there, dealing with sensitive children who give us a long list of criteria for what they are willing to wear.
So what’s the deal? Since when did seamless socks become a thing?
Actually, this is not a new problem, we all have various degrees of sensitivities. It was even named a thing by Jean Ayres in the 1970s. But it wasn’t until the last decade or so, that we’ve begun to understand the depth and severity these sensitivities can cause.
These sensory issues can range from a mild nuisance to a debilitating Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD can go way beyond just clothing sensitivity and can impact all areas of a child’s sensory world.
Ever since I was a kid I hated collars and clothes that restrained me. My feet needed to “breathe” often. I avoided jeans like the plague. I got car sick if I didn’t keep my eyes on the road and you’d better hand me a barf bag if I went anywhere near an amusement ride. Little did I know, those are all signs of sensory issues.
Fast forward a zillion years (I am really old). Enter my first child. I was so excited to have a girl! I wanted to dress her up and do her hair. However, I quickly learned I would be lucky to get her dressed at all. And her hair, forget about it. Cute pigtails were replaced with a short haircut to minimize the disheveled look of a head that refused to be brushed.
Seamless socks, cotton pants and crocs became my daughter’s life. Buying shoes was a major battle. Some were too tight. Some were too loose. I would sit there on the floor of the store in a sea of rejected shoes overwhelmed and exhausted. “Forget it,” I would say. “I have had enough for today. We’ll try again next week.”
It took me many years to find my beat with my sensitive girl. It took her many years to get used to her skin.
I want to spare you the struggle. Spare you the battles I should have never had – and never won. Tell you what I tell parents who come into my therapy practice, looking worn out and baffled by their sensitive kids. Their kids who demand seamless socks. Their kids who demand to wear shorts in the winter or pants in the summer. Kids who look like they are literally tortured by their own skin.
Here are some words of wisdom from someone who has been where you are…
Your Child isn’t trying to be difficult when they ask for seamless socks & cotton pants.
Your child doesn’t want to itch and pull at their clothes. They don’t want to feel like they are wearing sandpaper disguised as a shirt. Their skin is literally more sensitive than yours. It’s not in their head, it’s in their skin.
Once you recognize this, your home will be much more peaceful.
Don’t fight with them, join them in the fight to find comfy clothes.
Give up your concept of fashion.
You know those cute studded jeans with the lace on the bottom. Forget about it. You know that adorable dress made of pink chiffon, it’s not going to happen. You need to grieve any preconceived notion of how you thought your child would dress. You need to release any expectation on how you want your child to look.
This was a hard one for me. I had to swallow my pride and not care how my child looked. I knew other people wouldn’t understand and I had to learn to not care. That was a good life lesson.
Buy in bulk.
Having a child with sensory issues can get costly. What felt good in the store, no longer feels good at home. Or worse, it only starts to feel bad after the tags are off and its been worn once or twice.
I watched money go down the drain. It was hard not to get mad.
One thing I learned early on was to buy in bulk. When my daughter found a comfy pair of pants, I bought them in every color. When she found a shirt she would actually wear, I bought several of them.
Wait a good week or two before you buy in bulk, just to make sure it passes the skin test several times.
Pay attention to brands.
You might not think there is a big difference between Fruit of the Looms and Hane’s underwear or socks, but trust me your kid does. Pay attention to what brands you buy. I learned to save the packaging of any socks and underwear I bought, so I could buy the exact brand again.
Sensitive kids get used to the way a particular brand feels and they have a hard time adjusting to a new brand. This is not your child being difficult, it is their skin.
Let your child battle themselves.
Kids with sensory issues get just as frustrated as you. They don’t always know how to manage this frustration and they often take it out on their parents.
Get out of the line of fire! There is no need for you to interject yourself in their clothing battle. That is between them and their skin.
Have your child pick out their own clothes. If they are really young, make two bins. One bin of shirts and one bin of bottoms. Have all the shirts and bottoms match. That way you can let them dress themselves, but they’ll at least match!
If your child has a hard time getting dressed in the morning, have them shower and get dressed the night before. I know that might sound gross, but sometimes it takes sensitive skin some time to get used to the clothes. By getting dressed the night before, your child won’t have to go through the “it doesn’t feel right” stage in the morning.
Explain sensory issues to your child.
Education goes a long way. Once my daughter learned why her clothes felt bad on her skin, she was able to adapt. She paid attention to what felt right and she learned to shop by touch, not by sight. As a teen, she now knows what works and what doesn’t for her skin. She also knows that she has sensory issues and that it isn’t her fault.
Sensory issues don’t go away, kids and parents just learn to adapt. The best thing you can do as a parent is to educate yourself on how sensory processing issues work and what you can do to help your child.
Do you have a child with these sensory issues? What’s your best tip for parents out there? Do you know someone who frequently shops for seamless socks and soft clothes? Share this article with them!
Other Articles on Sensory Processing:
The Link Between Sensory Processing Disorder and Anxiety
What the Heck are Sensory Issues?
My Shift from Therapist to Mom of a Child with SPD
Books on Sensory Processing Issues: