Kids are particular creatures.
Everything has to be “just so”. Clothing is no exception.
Many young kids go through a period when we parents are afraid their kids will have to join a nudest colony because they just won’t put a stitch on!
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If your child reacts with a fight or flight response to clothing, sensory issues may be at play. Tactile defensiveness results from an over-sensitivity to touch.
If the child has sensory processing disorder, their brains struggle to filter pertinent information from input that should be ignored.
Imagine ALWAYS being acutely aware of the feel of your clothing, to the point that you can’t focus on anything else, there’s just too many signals coming in!
Tips and Tricks for Tactile Defensiveness
When tags are itchy or fabric drives your kids crazy a great way to make everyone happy is to have the first layer, the one actually touching your kids’ skin, to be something they love.
For my son, that’s a swim shirt. (Here’s a GREAT long sleeve Rashguard Shirt.) Silky smooth and non-bulky, it has saved us from many meltdowns.
Find what your kids love and let that be the first layer.
In fact, there are retailers that specialize in making undergarments that kids LOVE! SmartKnit has an incredible line of socks, undies and more that are all seamless, tagless and super comfy!
Do Proprioceptive Sensory Activities
Proprioception is the input that is received from the joints and ligaments of the body. It creates body awareness and thrives on weight and heavy work.
Common proprioceptive activities include:
> Weighted blankets
> Big hugs
Something about our bodies craves this proprioceptive input, and when we get it, it’s like our brain can handle whatever life throws at it, including textures and touch! Proprioception is the great sensory regulator.
Occupational therapists have a go-to technique called Wilbarger brushing that can do wonders for kids with all kinds of sensory issues.
The basic idea is to brush the skin (with these Sensory Brushes) to reduce defensiveness and give tons of beneficial proprioceptive input. Proprioception is great for helping the brain regulate and sort through input all. day. long.
Watch how to do this simple technique.
Take Them Shopping with You
Children with sensory issues often surprise us with their preference. We may think we’ve found the perfect outfit only to have it adamantly rejected.
One way to avoid the power struggle is to invite the child along for the shopping trip. Have reasonable guidelines in place, but give the child as much freedom of choice as possible.
They know best what feels good and will enjoy having a say in the matter.
Pick Your Battles
Along those same lines, give kids as much power to choose as you can.
I know the outfits they wear can be cringe-worthy. But do your best to only put your foot down when it’s absolutely necessary (trust me, you’ll have many opportunities!)
Matching is over rated, no one died from wearing the same shirt two days in a row (or three), and even a Texan can survive outside without a jacket in 60 degree weather.
When a non-negotiable does come up, be sympathetic and as helpful as possible.
Tactile defensiveness can be frustrating for everyone involved. Do your best to make allowances, and in the mean time, engage with our FREE exclusive facebook group. We know how you feel!
Have more questions??? Check out this wildly popular series of Sensory FAQs and become a more confident sensory parent today!