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6 yr old very sensitive to how clothes fit/feel and leads to meltdown
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6 yr old very sensitive to how clothes fit/feel and leads to meltdown

I have a six year old son who does well in school and in extra-curicullar activities.  He does have issues with how clothes, shoes, etc fit and feel.  This can lead to an absolute meltdown.  Screaming, yelling, crying, throwing things.  If his karate belt is mistied or his boots don't feel tight enough it can put a halt to the day. At first I was wondering if it was a result of pressure he may be feeling about doing the thing he was getting ready for and therefore I would give him the option of opting out of the activity. He would always choose to go.  But hunger, tiredness and anxiety all seem to be a factor. My husband and I are at the end of our ropes.  Another example is the other night his bed wasn't made just right and he went bezerk.  It scared both my husband and I because it was so extreme for the situation.  I am a stay at home mom and may have caved in to these eccentricities too much in the past, I also have a 3 year old daughter who is demanding more attention these days.  
How do I help him cope with these "small issues" that get such huge reactions.  


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There are several things to consider. First, your son may display some type of sensory integration problem which makes some forms of tactile sensations uncomfortable for him. Second, he may be displaying some of the early symptoms of obessive-compulsive disorder or traits that may eventually evoile into an obsessive-compulsive personality. Third, as with all young children, hunger, tiredness and illness make him fragile and it is important to adjust expectations in relation to such circumstances. Finally, your son may have 'learned' via experience to react to certain situations with these 'meltdowns'. You can extinguish that response over a fairly short time by placing him in time out immediately when they occur. As he sees that it is not in his best interest to react in this manner, the intensity and duration of the episodes will change and eventually he'll stop them entirely. Exceptions to this would occur, however, when he is either hungry or tired (or, of course, if he is ill).
7 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I have 6 children. My oldest has sensory integration to the max. We didn't know that was what was going on for the first few years of his life. He too would way over react when things were not right-socks, shoes, toys in his room, leaving a glass in his room. Seasonal wardrobe changes were/are still difficult. going from more to less or less to more clothes have always been hard for him. I would recommend some occupational therapy with a therapist that understands SID. You can help him cope with these things so that it doesn't make him so undone. You all will be happier when he can cope better. One of the things that helps my oldest is using one of the soft brushes that surgeons use to scrub their hands before surgery-take the brush and brush him all over his arms, back, legs, hands... It helps him not be so extra sensitive. Keep in mind that his senses are extra sensitive. He's not trying to be disobedient it is just something he can't control and he doesn't know how to fix what he can't handle. I think that you could put him in time out very consistantly and he will still act out if he is still having the same sensory issues because he is not trying to be disobedient he's trying to cope the only way he can. One book I highly recommend (The Out of Sync Child-Recognizing and coping with sensory integration dysfunction by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.) that I read explains SID as if you were walking down an alley way in the dark by yourself and you heard a noise. You would be very keenly aware of even the slightest breeze or smell or sound. If someone came up behind you in the alley at that point and spoke to you or touched you, you'd probably yell at them or hit them...Can you imagine trying to function all day long like that and then gettting in trouble for your responses...? If you can help him to tone down some of the sensitivities you will have a much happier boy and home :)
I hope this helps!
Tricia
Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions. I am not a doctor just a Mom that has been there before :)
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Avatar_n_tn
Just to add to this...I now have obsessive compulsive disorder but have been dealing with it fine starting to try and get over it, but it started at a young age very young and was just overlooked as temper tanrutms. Same thing as the socks, the seam would have to be just right, and if they werent i would throw a fit!!!! And also like reading if i messed up and forgot where i was i would get so angery and have to start over, as well as sayingmy abcs if someone would talk i would get so mad and have to start over, everything had to be perfect. Just to let you know I did start out at a young age, but if he can get therapy now it would help alot, i hate meds and wont take so im working with it by myself as well as the Lord has been right there to! I will keep ya;ll in my prayers!
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Avatar_m_tn
My 5yo dd has had similar reactions all her life (all 5 years).  What started out as sortof a pseudo-colic thing (it wasn't 'real' colic, because SOME things would help) ended up being Sensory Integration Dysfunction (I believe there is some new word for it now).  The main issues were how clothing felt, couldn't STAND being  touched lightly or cuddled, certain noises (not necessarily loud, just certain 'rings' or tones or something to them) and now we have issues with hair brushing and mosquito bites which you would think were amputations by the way she freaks out with them.  She is now in a special program at her school (due to speech issues - which is how we FINALLY got a diagnosis) and it turns out that in addition to all the agony, she is showing signs of being gifted.  (great combination eh?)  I read a book once something about the high needs or spirited child or something like that which made an interesting comment that has been confirmed for me by other parents who have faced similar issues.  Apperantly children with these kinds of sensitivities can end up being the most rewarding children (not that our others are not, by ANY means!) because they seem to develop quite a sensitivity to others thoughts, feelings etc., which of course can reduce the risk of that whole "who cares how others feel I'll do what I want anyway" syndrom (syndrome) that some teens fall into.

Of course, mine is 5 so we have a long way to go to test this theory.  Similar to faith in a supreme being, I will continue to have faith that this is true to help me get through those moments where I'm SURE we have a possessed member of our household!!

Hope this is even somewhat comforting.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have two children with asperberger syndrome.  Wow, I've been through the wringer with both of them.  My oldest is now 25, and doing fine.  My second is 14 and still struggling,altough better than when younger.

She sounds like she could be tintin's double.  The colic, the sensativity.  She also has a few more things thrown it, to make it interesting.  But, she has come a long way, and I am proud of her, except when I'm frustrated and frightened for her.

What I have learned through the years, it that your children are unique people, more sensative, more a lot of things than other kids.  But, that doesn't make them weird.  Accept them, and they will accept themselves.  Then you can talk about the differences, and come up with solutions together.
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Avatar_n_tn
I just finished a great book called "The Highly Person" by Elaine Aron PhD. 15-20% of the population is born highly sensitive. It's a trait that is important to the well being of society in general, but our particular culture tends to label highly sensitive people(HSP) negatively. The trait is also found in the animal kingdom in proportions similar as in humans.

HSPs have a higher intuitive sensitivity, yet are easily subject to overarousal in stimulating situations. There is a short test at the beginning of the book that will help you identify if you have this trait. You can also find the quiz online. Ms Aron also has a book called "The Highly Sensitive Child" that helps parents of these children understand this special trait. I haven't read that book, but I wish my parents had, as I am also a HSP. I was also picky about the clothes I wore as far as their comfort level, and still am to this day.
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Avatar_n_tn
Uh, that book is the "Highly Sensitive Person". That was a typo, sorry.
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