Adjusting to short sleeves

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mightymouse, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. mightymouse

    mightymouse Trying to save the day.

    Every spring my difficult child has a hard time going from long sleeves to short. Since he was about 2, he gets upset and tugs at them periodically and whines about them. Until this year he hasn't thrown huge fits (relatively speaking) and would get over it after a few weeks. This year however, it has become a huge issue with huge tantrums when I even suggest short sleeves because he is in school for the first time. Not only is he dealing with sensory issues, but also his perception of "social" issues. He says short sleeves don't feel right and was upset because "no one else will be wearing them." For the love of God, he is only 4 years old! Who cares what everyone else is wearing! Obviously he does. Anyway, I am going to mention this to his teacher (who is absolutely amazing!) and I know she will be a big help with the social aspect. But, I would love to hear some suggestions as to how to deal with the sensory aspect from other parents who have had to deal with this issue. We live in the south where an active child wearing long sleeves all summer long while outdoors just isn't an option.
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    My difficult child wound up working out a system on his own--I just go along with it by finding the clothes to work within it.

    What he does is wear thin nylon basketball shorts and shortsleeved t-shirts all year around. I buy multiple pairs of the same shorts so it always feels the same and in the early days I also bought identical tshirts. When the weather gets colder he wears hooded zipper sweatshirts and pants over the shorts and tshirts. The zipper sweatshirts he usually leaves on all day in the cooler months, at least while he's out of the house. It makes it easier on him because the clothing that's next to his skin remains constant from day to day and season to season.

    I've been buying Land's End--I know it costs more but they carry the basics over from year to year so it makes it so much easier on me. difficult child is in about his 3rd or 4th year in their sweatshirts and climber pants:

    Good luck and let us know how this turns out. I remember those days and it was a big headache!
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello mightymouse,

    Boy, can I empathize with this!
    difficult child, Little easy child and I all have significant sensory integration issues. I've never run into the short sleeves issue, but I've dealt with a wide range.

    Here are a few thoughts, just off the top of my head:
    - What are the short sleeved shirts made of? Is it broadcloth or more of a t-shirt fabric?
    - Are the sleeves loose fitting or tight? Sometimes things that fit closer to the body are less difficult, because they don't flap around the arms. With other people, looser sleeves are better because they don't touch.
    - Is the fabric rough to the touch? Even if it doesn't feel rough to you, might your child feel it as rough?
    - Can you add fabric softener to the wash AND dryer sheets to the dryer? Strange as it sounds, this has made a world of difference to my Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) crew in being able to tolerate clothes
    - If it is a button-down shirt rather than a t-shirt, can your difficult child wear a thin t-shirt under it so that none of the actual shirt touches his skin?

    Have you tried asking your difficult child what it is about the short sleeves that bothers him? Other than "other kids won't be wearing them"? If you can ask him some of the questions I've noted above, in terms that he can understand, it might get to the root of the trouble.

    I know it's hard. I live it every day.
    Best of luck and hope you find a solution.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    When my oldest son, now 30, went to four year old preschool he would bring a winter coat and a spring jacket EVERY day. He wouldn't get out of the car until he saw what kind of coat his friends were wearing. Then he'd put on the same type of coat and go out to play. I have no idea what it meant, but wanted to share. He eventually got a diagnosis of severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety, but this was in adulthood. Sometimes I think he's an Aspie.
  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    MWM, my difficult child still does this. Not so much with his clothes (where he definitely marches to his own drummer), but mainly with food. He has incredible trouble deciding what he wants to eat until someone else makes a choice, then he wants to have that too. Even if he loathes it, if someone else expresses a strong liking for it, all of a sudden it's his favourite too.

    It does seem that, being a part of something is much more important than his own preferences.

    Mightymouse, I wonder if that's something you can try with your little one. Give him a couple of shirt choices and don't make him pick until he sees what the others are wearing?

  6. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I personally have issues with clothes - If someone in my family had said - MY GOSH you're only 12, what's the big deal - I would have felt really bad. I'm 43 and now I can explain it to some degree - but I have mornings where 10 shirts won't feel right - and my family now just sighs and walks away. If you don't have SI you will probably not understand or be able to empathize with someone who does. But you can be kind and acknowledge that persons pain and name the feeling, then work together to figure out what he thinks would help.

    How about you talk to him and identify that he's having a problem with sleve length like "Well I see short sleeves make you angry I bet it's hard to wear a shirt that is so uncomfortable." then say nothing, but wait to see what he says back. If he says nothing - you can say "I wish I could wave a wand and ride a unicorn to the shirt store and find you the perfect shirt."

    To help with feelings
    1.) Listen with full attention
    2.) Acknowledge their feelings with a word like "OH" or "Mmm" ....I see.
    3.) Give their feelings a name
    4.) Give them their wishes in a fantasy

    I have no doubts that my "quirks" make me a little weirdo, practice not dismissing a child's feelings - especially one who is quirky like their Aunti Star. lol

  7. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Sorry, but I'm not sure I understand why it matters if he wears long sleeves. As long as he's comfortable, let him stay in the clothes he wants. You can always send a short-sleeved shirt for him to change into if he feels he is too hot. Being like the other kids is just as important at 4 as it is at 14. Conforming is important at that age.