Help with Sensitive 4 Year Old!

Updated on January 06, 2010
H.W. asks from Minneapolis, MN
4 answers

My 4 year old son has always been "intense." But can also be quite adaptable and easy. Sleep seems to be a big factor. But lately he is over sensitive about clothes feeling funny, i.e., if the shirt under a sweater doesn't feel just right, or if he forgets to hold a sleeve and it gets bunched up- he just flips out. I remember being this way to a much lesser extreme as a child- so I am sensitive to it, but also extremely aggravated by it. My question is how much to accommodate and change his clothes until he is comfortable and how much to encourage him to push on through and find a way to cope with discomfort. Has anyone else dealt with this? Any moms with older kids whose kids were like this as toddlers and how did you deal- did it resolve or get worse? He can also be quite stubborn and is a perfectionist. He won't attempt to draw letters b/c they are not "perfect." How do I best handle this behavior/sensitivity?? Any advice or commiseration is appreciated because of course I am blaming myself that I somehow created this perfectionism, etc... I know its a personality type, but it worries me. Thanks for any help.

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answers from Wausau on

Hi H.,

My sister had the same problem with her boy. He would never wear jeans or underwear...and always super sensitive about almost everything he would wear.

She started buying him boxers for underwear and let him wear elastic waisted pants...something comfy and cute. Also would buy him tshirts with no tags. I think she had stock in Adidas and Nike with all the outfits she had for him. She was so concerned about this because it was a fight every day with him...she couldn't even get him in pj's. He told her it is actually a sign of intelligence. He was like this until about 5 or 6 years old and then he grew out of it. He was a very bright boy and today he is 14 and is very smart and athletic, and has no remaining issues about this.

Good luck in your journey.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

My son just turned 5 a couple of months ago. He acted the same as yours is. He used to change his clothes at least 5 times a day. I think he's acting this way bc he is starting to become more independant, and wants to do everything himself. If he's anything like mine is, then he thinks he knows everything! I started to let julian pick his own clothes out for the day. Believe it or not he does a really great job. And i have no arguments on what he's wearing, and less laundry to do. Also his dr. told me that his imagination is at his highest, so it could have something to do w/ that. Hang in there. It could just be a phase he's going threw.



answers from Minneapolis on

My now 12 yr old daughter was like this from the time she was little until she was about 8/9. Socks, underwear, jeans, ALL caused problems. Everything felt "funny." It took her a 1/2 hour just to get a pair of shoes on because the socks had to be lined up just right! She did finally outgrow it to a degree - now she is old enough to make clothing choices that meet her needs and sometimes fashion outweighs everything, which tells me she is over most of it.

A couple of things that helped:

A good mosturizing lotion - she had/has really dry skin that makes most things feel more irritating than others.

Being dairy free - for whatever reason, the dairy made her attitude worse and eventually we just eliminated it all together

Stock up on clothing you KNOW works - she starting picking her own clothing at an early age and I kept alot of leggings and sweatpants around for her comfort.

SLEEP - she seems to need more sleep than most kids and napped until she started 1st grade! She still can't tolerate being low on sleep.

Plan extra time - it stressed me out that it took her so long to do everything, which probably leaked over on to how she was reacting. I added extra time for all her needs and it destressed both of us.

Have it checked out - take advantage of your pediatrician and local Early Start programming to make sure there aren't additional issues that need to be addressed.

Good luck :)



answers from Appleton on

My son is the same way. When he was in pre-k and kindergarten his teachers did notice it. They explained to us that it can be normal at this age, but to watch it as he gets older, like 2nd grade because sometimes it can get out of control. It is almost like he has a form of anxiety when time is limited.

He is in 1st grade now and is doing better. Clothes still bother him. He will not wear jeans because they are too picky and his shirts can't have any tags. He is getting better at understanding time and he knows he needs to start getting ready to go somewhere earlier than normal. Now, we still have our times where he is freaking out because he feels so rushed, but it is getting a lot better.

Good Luck!

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