5 Year Old Dilemmas

Updated on November 05, 2009
K. asks from Smyrna, TN
29 answers

I have a 5 yr old son who seems to be having issues with his clothes....either it itches, his socks & shoes don't feel right, his pants are too long (when they aren't).... I'm becoming frustrated. Every morning is a struggle because his socks don't feel right or he doesn't like the shirts he has....none of this was a problem before.

What can I do next?

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C.B.

answers from Charlotte on

Children have very little control over their lives so maybe you could give him a choice of clothes to wear. Lay out 2 or 3 outfits and have him choose which one he would like to wear. Then let him choose his socks. The complaining may subside after that. It's probably just a control issue.

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A.W.

answers from Charlotte on

I have a 5 yr old daughter with the same issues....who knew socks could create such drama. With my daughter, I feel it's a control issue because one day the "socks" are too tight and the next, they are great. I went and bought a clothes divider to hang in the closet. Every Sunday night we pick out her clothes for the school week and even put an extra outfit in. In the morning she is allowed to wear anything from the divider, but NO other clothes. If it's not in the divider, it's off limits. Pick out shoes, socks, hairbow.......everything!!! We do still have some drama, but it has helped!!

I am also very careful to only buy her clothes that are cotton, cozy and comfy! She does have ezema and dry skin so I know that some things are not comfortable for her. But most mornings, it's just about control so try to alleviate some of that and hopefully things will get better.

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B.O.

answers from Nashville on

Both my girls suffered from eczema as kids and many fabrics would catch on the rough areas of their skin. Neither had rashes in the "usual" places, either! I recall my younger girl (who's now a mother of two herself) could not wear anything that was "brushed nylon" even though it seemed so soft. The "smooth" side that touched her skin was catching on the roughness. Just something to be aware of.

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S.A.

answers from Raleigh on

Does this happen everyday or just on weekdays?
--If it's everyday, then he could either have developed an allergy, have sensory issues, or may have dry skin. If it's only on weekdays then it's his way of expressing anxiety or frustration with his weekday schedule. He either has an issue with school or daycare (or someone at either place) if he only has issues during the week.

Sometimes laundry detergents can be the culprit - companies may substitute an ingredient (like if they change their supplier of raw ingredients). If it's happening everyday, make sure your child is moisturized - my son gets scratchy and itchy even when his skin feels soft to me (lotion after his bath or shower does the trick). Alternatively, if it's a sensory issue, it's unusual I think for him to be this old before displaying any symptoms - most children exhibit some signs of sensory issues by the time they are toddlers. There is a difference between true sensory issues and a preference. My son doesn't like a particular shirt he was given, so balks when I want him to wear it. He says it's itchy - and you know what? It probably is itchy to his sensitive skin. In this case with this shirt, it's a preference and not a sensory issue. I'm thinking your son's issue is probably not a sensory issue but it's something to ke3ep in mind if you rule everything else out.

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A.G.

answers from Raleigh on

K. I feel your pain. My daughter who is now 10 started this behavior at 3. I did not understand it at first. She never was dx with a sensory disorder but her ped said that it could be. It truly tried my patience some mornings. I was a single mom then as well and he older brother thought she was crazy.
I learned that she had to be involved in every purchase. And I mean everything...jeans, shirts, underwear and socks (which I found seamless toes help greatly) even shoes. I also use fabric softeners--helps make the clothes softer to her. I never was one to use a certain laundry detergents either I bought what was on sale or cheapest but since she was about 5 I have used on specific brand no matter what- less complaints on itching
I hope this helps to make it easier. Stay strong mom...yall will get through this :)

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C.G.

answers from Raleigh on

I have a daughter you is that way. She has allergies and requires prescription medicines during spring/summer. My advice would be to do all that you can to assist your son and after that, remain firm. For example, I would purchase sensitive skin laundry detergent and soaps, involve him in the washing process of his laundry so that he understands that you take his concerns seriously, give him choices as to which shirts he wears on certain days and give him lots of morning time to get ready. He may also need a trip to an allergist. After you have done all that you can, I would insist that he follow your rules. At least you know you tried your best!

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W.C.

answers from Lexington on

sounds like he doesn't wanna go to school and is finding a hard time of expressing that. Sounds like you're pretty frustrated!! LOL I would be too!

Try talking to him about the clothes issue - sitting down, person to person, holding him and loving on him keeping your voice very gentle. Remember, he's not out to get you and he's not TRYING to frustrate you. He has a problem that probably doesn't need to be solved, but does need to be listened to....and he probably needs you to try and understand. After you've listened to him, work with him to find ways to help solve it....eg,"What do you think we can do about it? What would you like to be wearing? are they itchy? are they less itchy when mommy uses a different soap or dryer sheet to clean them? do they feel too small? how can we investigate this together?" Do this at a time that everyone's in a good mood and there are no obligations pressuring you - appt's to keep, dinner to make, etc so you csn give him your full attention and allow your mind free range to work creative solutions with him.

good luck!

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C.R.

answers from Raleigh on

Sounds like sensory issues more than a clothing preference. You will probably want to discuss this with your pediatrician. I have a daughter (not a son) but she tends to prefer clothes from target and childrens place. Try looking for things that are soft and tagless...pants that are knit or lined with knit...shoes that are soft and flexible like a baby shoe (if you can find some). I've become my daughters own personal shopper. She is only 3 and selects all of her own clothes. Believe me I've tried to get her to wear some really beautiful stuff but if it's not comfortable then she's not wearing it. Best of luck!

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S.I.

answers from Wheeling on

I have to agree with many of the comments already posted regarding him having some control and also with the sensory issues. I was at a training for my job and we learned about that - it described my daughter to a "t". She will be 3 in December and here recently, since the change in weather, she has fought and fought over putting socks on. She says they hurt and don't feel right... or they're too tight. But with the weather in Ohio, she HAS to wear them. Once they are on and she forgets about them, she's usually fine. I am noticing it seems to be a combination with her - she wants control over many things because she is so independent and wants to do things "all by myself"... but she also has the sensory issues with tags in her shirts (not so much her pants because she has a pull-up or underwear to protect her skin.)
So... I was able to find some socks at Walmart that were thinner and had the thinner lining at the toe. She doesn't complain hardly at all with those socks plus they came in a pack of 10 or 12. And I either have to go through all her shirts and cut out the tags (HATE doing that because then I have no idea what sizes her shirts are!) or just buy the "tagless" shirts. She is satisfied with those options... and of course, I usually tell her that once we get to where we need to go (babysitter's, home from store, etc.) that she can take her socks off. That suffices most of the time.
Good luck to you! If you're still concerned, I would definitely express your concerns to his doctor.

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M.M.

answers from Charlotte on

My just-turned-four-year-old is very particular about his clothes. So I let him pick out what he wants to wear everyday within certain parameters (I usually set up the choices). The first rule is that it has to be a clean item. So, he can't re-wear his Bumblebee shirt if it's grimy. His clothes also need to be aligned with the weather conditions. So, on cold mornings he needs to select long sleeve shirts and long pants. His socks need to match. Now that he has the flexibility to select his clothes, he's loosened his grip. I guess it wasn't as thrilling as he thought it would be but he still chooses what he wants to wear (sometimes it doesn't matter to him and he lets me know that). Maybe you can give your son some autonomy in this area. There are so few things that kids can actually control, I say why not let them wear what they want within reason.

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S.T.

answers from Nashville on

Has this just started since going to school? Sometimes changes in their life, makes them see things differently. Maybe another child commented on his clothes, and it affected him in a very hurtful way, that now he thinks he looks "funny". Children can be cruel... just listen and talk to him and hope that he opens up. Good luck and God bless.

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D.G.

answers from Chattanooga on

From the sounds of it he may have sensory issues. I would suggest talking to the dr and bringing your son to the store to feel different materials to see what works for him. As a mom of 4 who has different sensory issues with all my kids I can only buy certain clothes for certain of my kids. Let them go sockless when they can. Good luck as it can be interesting finding clothes . they do have different types of sock so that may help

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C.R.

answers from Knoxville on

My sons had issues with socks and we handled it by getting different socks. They prefer the ones that are no show and the seam at the toe needs to be thin. The do not like any words(brands) printed at the toe either. As far as the itching it could be any thing from sensitivity to the laundry soap to the softener/dryer sheets. If there is a rash then you may need to change laundry soap. If you do not use softener then adding it to your laundry regimen may help. I purchase liquid softener(any brand)and mix half and half with water in a container with tight fitting lid. Shake to mix. Take 2 or 3 new sponges cut in half and put into softner mixture. When you put clothes in dryer just squeeze out one sponge and toss in with clothes and run dryer as usual. Just put the sponge back in container to reuse. I also have a recipe for making your own laundry soap. If you want it just let me know. God Bless and Good luck!

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R.L.

answers from Dallas on

Hi K.!
I have done private research on children with bipolar (since I have bipolar)and other various mental disorders and this is often one of the first signs. Especially, the socks and shoes not feeling right. Most bipolar children are very bothered and easily irritated by how things feel to them and they have to be perfect. For instance, socks need to have the "nubbies" (the seam" under their feet because they hate how it feels on their toes and they can't concentrate at all unless it does. Another thing to notice is if they are highly creative for their age. Of course, as moms, we are biased in this area. Of course, he could just be a finicky normal 5 year old too! Good luck in trying to figure it out.
Blessings,
Becca

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T.C.

answers from Lexington on

I am SOOOO going through this right now! My daughter is about to turn five and about 4 months ago she started this out of the blue. At this point the only way I have been able to deal with it is by giving her 2 choices of clothing and ONLY 2 choices. She has to choose one, period and that's what she goes to school in. I DO cut out the tags, I hate them myself! The only other concession I make is she can wear an undershirt if her shirt is scratchy or the seams are "bothering her".
I will say, I HAVE sent her out in new shoes (TOO TIGHT!) or a pair of jeans (ITCHY!) with tears from both of us just to ask her at the end of the day how the clothes worked out for her, "Fine!" I like these jeans now!"
So, sticking to your guns, showing him in the mirror the shirt is NOT too long or covers his underwear when he bends over and cutting out the tags gives them a little control, which at this age they are coming around to..and you maintaining your control as a parent too.
Good Luck!

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A.R.

answers from Knoxville on

I think kids this age will use any means possible to gain control over us. My daughter was the same way until I took control of the situation. We don't have much trouble in the mornings anymore. I think she was trying anything possible to stay home and to keep me home with her. Unfortunately she has to go to kindergarten so we found ways to get to school on time. After time outs, a smiley face calender that included rewards and taking things away I took my mom's old school advice and got out the dreaded wooden spoon. I am sure most people are against this but it seems to work great for us. We are both much happier without the power struggle in the morning. I have named it the equalizer.

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D.F.

answers from Charlotte on

Ha! I had to laugh... because I can now. It wasn't always funny. My daughter who is now 19, was the same way. We still laugh & use the phrase "It's doing something", for that is what she used to say as a young child when her clothes seemed to not feel or be right. We now believe that it was her way of Declaring Her Independence, plus she is also very conscious of the way she looks. Her socks seemed to always be "Doing Something". She always wanted her own style... like flowery bathing suit, sun hat, & red rain boots , only to go running out in the snow! Great memories now.

The difficult lesson in all this was that she never changed, and so many moments were put towards being dressed properly. In retrospect, it may have been better not to have fussed with her quite as often over that never ending issue. Though she did turn out to be a very beautiful stylish dresser... with her own style... not ours.

D. Focht
Your NC/SC REALTOR ® / Broker

###-###-#### (cell)
[email protected]____.com
www.DonnaFocht.com
Charlotte, NC 28277

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A.G.

answers from Greensboro on

Google "sensory processing disorder" or "sensory integration" and see if some light bulbs go off. My son is 5 and we have just found out he has some sensory issues with his vestibular system (balance/coordination) and visual perception. My frustration with his clumsiness, not watching where he was going, etc. has turned into compassion now after my own light bulb moment. Talk to your pediatrician, too, if what you find out about sensory issues matches up with what you're seeing in your son. There is occupational therapy for sensory issues. Good luck.

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M.O.

answers from Charlotte on

Hi there, I have heard that kids who struggle with issues like these may have something called sensory processing disorder. Ask your doctor and see if they have a check list you can review to see if that may be the problem. Good luck.

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D.T.

answers from Raleigh on

He may have Sensory Processing Disorder; my daughter was diagnosed in April, and basically, input from her senses aren't being processed by her brain correctly. We all have some sensory issues, but those w/SPD seem to react more strongly to some things. My daughter is the same way with her clothes; it's usually the tags in her clothes, but for many kids, it's the seams in the socks that annoy, too. There are many resources out there, but this one is great for parents: http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/

Good luck!
D.

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E.O.

answers from Charlotte on

Only you will know if he's just being whiney or if there really is a problem. Around the age of 5 is when a lot of body recognition is happening, so, along with that comes more vocalizing and/or complaining about things. It's harder for children to differentiate between normal and abnormal feelings and pains. That's when you have to try to figure out and decide what is being whiney and what may be a real problem. If you don't think he's just being whiney, your son may have some tactile issues. He may be sensative to the feel of certain things. I have a daughter who has that and then some, but the tactile can be the most aggravating to deal with. Socks are worn inside out or just do without them. Shoes are put on and tied 5x before they feel okay. I have to be careful when buying clothes to make sure they're not itchy, too tight, have applique backing on the inside. Tags are cut out. Hair brushing is torture. (I have a daughter with long hair so there is a whole lot more maintaining) I have one brush in particular I have to use all the time and a certain way I have to brush to keep from bringing tears. It even goes as far as the texture of foods with her. There are tons of major things with my child and probably on WAY extreme end of things, but I wouldn't totally rule out some minor issues with your child. There's really nothing you can do about it because he can do nothing about it. You just have to be patient and adjust whatever is bothering him to try to fix it. Patience is the key. If you get frustrated he will too and things will be that much harder to deal with. I hope things get a little better for the both of you!

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P.B.

answers from Raleigh on

Sounds Like a sensory thing.
Think of it like he was sensitive to sound or bright light, he needs your compassion & is not trying to frustrate you.

Ask your pediatrician about it. Know that this is not uncommon.

Clothing will probably be a bigger issue for you than the rest of us, but keep your son in the loop with clothing choices & purchases. I know that is how my friend manages with her son's clothing issues.

Good luck!

P : )

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D.B.

answers from Charlotte on

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T.W.

answers from Nashville on

I have had these same challenges with my 5 yr old boy (and even with my 7 yr old girl when she was 5). It is extremely hard to be patient on those mornings we are running late. I have found that the problem stems from the child's lack of control... especially after starting Kindergarten (even if they had been in a daycare setting their whole lives, like mine have).

To help my kids feel like they had more control, I let them pick out their clothes (I have their "school clothes" limited to a couple drawers that they are to pick from) the night before. If they want to try them on (to check for "itchiness" or discomfort) they may. I have had them put their shoes on with their "long" pants the night before so they could see that they would be comfortable.

I have even gone to the extent of letting them help wash/dry/fold/put away their clothes to give them ownership and "control" over their stuff/space to lead to easy mornings. My seven year old now picks out her stuff without me prompting her and likes to be ready for morning so she doesn't have to rush. I still have to tell my son to get ready for morning... but it has helped us tremendously!

I have also heard from other parents that setting a timer in the morning, letting the child know that breakfast will be ready when it goes off can work for some kids. I hope this helps you with your challenge! =)

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V.M.

answers from Memphis on

Mention this to your pediatrician. My daughter used to complain that everything itched her. It was so frustrating shopping for her. She often wears 2 layers of clothes so 1 layer feels good against her skin & the other is what shows on the outside. It wasn't until she started havin seizures that I read a brochure in the neurologist office. It said children who have ADHD or brain abnormalities display the type of symptoms you listed. But don't panic. The brain can work differently in a child but those differences may not be indicative of any serious disorder.

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E.M.

answers from Louisville on

sounds like a sensory problem talk to your doctor soon!

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W.M.

answers from Nashville on

I think this is normal. It is worse with girls I hear. My son does this a bit. I basically decide for myself what is or isn't an issue. If it is a shirt that the sleeves really are kind of weird, I will agree with him. If I think there is no reason for him being so picky, I tell him that there is nothing wrong with that shirt or those socks and he has one minute to get it on or we are going to have a problem. I am lucky b/c he does it and I never have to figure out what to do after that minute but whatever normally works for you when you are disciplining. I also have said, "if you wear this today, I will let you pick out what you want to wear tomm. I will give you two choices and you can choose". Or I will say, "when you get home, you can change but this is what you are wearing to school today". Or I would say, "fine, don't wear socks, put on your slippers or your flip flops and go" and he would NOT want to do that! :o) Ask him what he likes and maybe you will be ok with it. Take him shopping and let him pick out his own socks/shirts but tell him that he has to wear the ones he has too. You will make the deal with him but he must wear what he already has b/c you are not wasting the money of what he already has. I think it is a phase and I think it is him expressing his personality so try to meet him half way.

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S.S.

answers from Charlotte on

I'm still going through something similar with my 7 yr. old son, and I have a few possibilities for you. After getting highly frustrated at the constant clothes socks and shoes battle with my son (which started at 3 yrs old) I finally decided it wasn't worth the fight and only buy him clothes that won't cause a problem. That means NO buttons on the shirts, all tags are cut out, nothing that will cause it to be the least bit bunched up or uncomfortable, LOTS of sweat pants or soft denim with elastic waist NOT zippers, nothing with a lot of pockets on the pants, socks without a big seam across the toe.....ect. Apparently he is extremely sensitive to the way things feel against his skin. After some research I've found there are some children that have EXTREME sensitivities. Some grow out of it, some are affected their whole lives. A friends daughter actually has a food allergy that makes her skin extra sensitive when she eats dairy, but otherwise she refuses to wear anything remotely tight fitting. I also use extra fabric softener on the clothes in the wash. It may not be something that your son can help, it may be an actually reaction (or allergy) to the clothes or your detergent or even a food. Unfortunately my inlaws do not understand my sons issues and continue to buy him clothes that he refuses to wear! Good luck, and try not to sweat the little stuff!

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R.M.

answers from Nashville on

My much younger sister did this also. Her primary fixation was her socks. She used to get all agitated about her "sock problems" and we would wiggle and fix them several times. We still tease her with that phrase. But it turned out to be a sensory thing that was part of a bigger diagnoses of dyslexia. We learned to just cope with it, trying to fix it over and over, budgeting in extra time to do just that. It's awful, but usually manageable once you get it down how they like things to feel. That was just easier than the meltdown if we didn't. I'm sure your pediatrician would have lots of other ideas to help.

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