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Toddler clothes nightmare - advice appreciated

(16 Posts)
Zeezeezoo Tue 05-Jan-16 09:58:08

I'm looking for any advice regarding my 2.4 toddler and getting dressed in the morning. I don't know what to do for the best. It started out with reluctance/refusal to wear socks and shoes. Whilst this is still a daily battle, we have made some slow progress on this. She still won't wear anything long sleeved (only T-shirts) as she says they are too tight. Even bigger sizes. trousers she won't put on - saying they are bumpy and tight. This has been about 4 months now. Every morning, we try and keep our cool - up at 6.15am and have to leave the house for 8am for nursery and every morning my husband and I feel fit to burst with the stress. It doesn't seem to be about having choices, as is so often recommended, she'll still choose a pair of jogging bottoms and then when we try and put them on she'll still say no. We've tried being patient, not rushing, consistency, getting cross, taking time out, she just refuses and sometimes (like this morning) we physically pin her down and dress her. This results in (as you can imagine) her in tears, thrashing around, me almost in tears and general stress. She's always been 'spirited' and her toddler tantrums started before 2, but this clothes issues is really getting us down and interfering with 'life' as it just seems to dominate the morning. I've looked online and read things about Autism (Don't think it is this) and sensory issues (maybe - it's just a clothes thing) - but I just can't work out what to do. No one I have spoken to has experienced this before on such a regular basis. Suggestions of 'reward charts or singing' (i've tried) just don't cut the mustard. Our second baby is due at the end of the month and no idea how I'll cope, can't cope as it is. I wonder if anyone has been through this strange clothes issue? or anyone have anything else I can try? I'm relatively relaxed mum and don't care if clothes aren't matching, just want a morning to start off without high tears and this seems to be beating me down. Sorry for long post and thank you in advance.

dementedpixie Tue 05-Jan-16 10:00:35

Would she wear tunics/dresses/dungarees instead of things that dig in at the waist?

GastonsPomPomWrath Tue 05-Jan-16 10:04:07

Will she wear dresses and tights or leggings? Long socks?

Zeezeezoo Tue 05-Jan-16 10:07:25

Seems to be refusal at anything. I've offered up comfy looking wool dresses or a light tunic top but she won't let me get it even near her. Almost fear like...she just says T-shirt and comfy trousers (jogging bottoms) but even these, she can change her mind and say 'too tight' and pulls them off as quick as we put on her.

magicpuppy Tue 05-Jan-16 10:08:35

My dd was the same at that age, in fact it really was the peak time of her issues. She could not tolerate clothes. At home she lived in her underwear most of the time.

As time went on it became obvious that she had issues with other things too though. She was extremely sensitive to noise and was very anxious.

She was eventually diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and had Play Therapy.

She is older now and is much improved. She still has very rigid rules about clothes/socks/underwear/shoes.

I really regret the horrible battles we used to have trying to get her dressed when she was a toddler but things improved a lot when I stopped trying to force her to wear what I wanted and worked with her.

Is there any clothes your dd accepts? For dd it was pyjamas with legging type bottoms so I just got ones that looked as little like nightwear as possible and let her wear those.

Socks and shoes made her hysterical so I let her wear crocs with no socks all year round and wellies for playing outside.

Zeezeezoo Tue 05-Jan-16 10:10:21

Leggings, long socks and tights a big no no. she says too tight. I've even got a size up and then she pulls at any of the excess fabric and tells me to 'take them off'. she used to wear leggings as a baby and no issues then!

magicpuppy Tue 05-Jan-16 10:12:17

The 'fear' really rings true. That's how dd was. Even now new clothes have to be washed and put away for weeks or months before she can move on to them.

She was extremely attached to a few items and used to get so upset when I washed them as then they felt different and wrong. Even now she hates fresh pjs.

I used to pick out cute things for her and come home so excited to show her and she would get completely stressed out about it. I still buy her clothes but wash them and put them away with no fuss and eventually she will put them on.

magicpuppy Tue 05-Jan-16 10:13:12

It's funny because at 2 dd would wear leggings but by 4 could not stand them. She has never worn tights.

Zeezeezoo Tue 05-Jan-16 10:16:19

The only thing she is happy in are Mickey mouse jogging bottoms (that ironically are too small for her/little bit tight around the waist) and 3 T-shirts. She used to love her PJ's but too now seem to be a problem).
There don't seem to be other issues with noise (general tantrums) maybe she is anxious about some things. Hard to know what is being a toddler and something more indicating. How did you diagnose SPD if you don't mind me asking? I'd never heard of it until recently.

magicpuppy Tue 05-Jan-16 10:17:36

I think the hardest part for me was that I felt that I was neglecting dd because she wore the same few scruffy things all the time and was never as warmly bundled up as other kids.

Starting school was interesting. I had a lot of anxiety about that because her school wears a uniform complete with shirt and tie but I spoke to them and they were very understanding. She didn't have to wear the tie and I could substitute the itchy cardigan for a soft cotton one of the same colour. She wore boots with no socks in winter and but for most of the year went in with shoes and no socks. I got lots of comments about that but she was happy going in to school and getting on well.

GastonsPomPomWrath Tue 05-Jan-16 10:18:40

Perhaps letting her choose some of her own clothes will help. Instead of picking out her clothes, just say what do you want to wear and whatever that is, go with it. Do you think that taking her to the shops and saying that she can pick her own trousers will help maybe?

Other than that, I'd consider seeing the health visitor about it. They may be able to help with strategies but importantly will just listen to you because it must be so frustrating.

Magic has made a good point about sensory issues, which will be picked up if you speak to a hcp.

magicpuppy Tue 05-Jan-16 10:22:18

I spent a lot of time on here Zee and got lots of help and support. Then someone recommended a play therapist to me so we saw her which led to seeing an occupational therapist.

When we went down this route I was more concerned about her extreme reaction to noise and her anxiety as by that stage I had sort of learned to cope with the clothes thing.

I was recommended this book here which was an interesting read.

lucy101101 Tue 05-Jan-16 10:24:05

My DD is 2.1 and only this morning I was having a chat with another mother about this! I don't think my daughter has any other issues (we have close family on the spectrum) but she just doesn't like wearing clothes right now especially on her legs! I don't know what the answer is but to try and avoid battles unless absolutely necessary and try and find clothes that can be tolerated.... The mother I spoke to this morning said all her three were effectively nude most of the time and her last DD at 4 still can't wait to get tights and socks off.

magicpuppy Tue 05-Jan-16 10:29:01

Forgot my main recommendation - Jo Jo Maman Bebe!

these Soft as leggings but not tight. I think boden sometimes have similar.


Zeezeezoo Tue 05-Jan-16 10:33:37

Thanks Magicpuppy will source the book and check out the clothes, really helpful of you.
Gastons - yes you might be right a trip to see HCP.
Lucy - thank god I'm not alone. sometimes feels like it! :-)

chaosagain Tue 05-Jan-16 10:51:25

You're not alone. My dd, now 6, was very like this and we still have some issues over clothes now.
Working with what she will wear is a strategy I'd recommend, as is trying to stay as calm as possible and not engaging in a battle of wills about it. We left the house a good number of times with her wearing pyjamas or not much. I'd have her clothes ready over the buggy and would make it clear she could put them on when she was cold/ready without it being a 'climb down' for her. Bright and breezy was the air I aimed for with a big smile at people who'd give us funny looks on the way to nursery.
Sometimes it was helpful for me to wear her trousers on my head and get top on my arm and 'pretend' they were my clothes while doing other getting ready things. She would sometimes then really want them back! (And other times entirely ignore me).
I found it easier when her little brother was born (2.5 year gap). Being heavily pregnant was more tiring and harder in the clothes wrestle.
After months of battling, things improved when I found ways to take the daily fight out of it. She still stripped the minute she got home!
Nowadays she has minor sensory issues - she'll only wear cotton leggings, soft cotton tops and light fleece for the main and the endless shopping issue I have is finding kids' socks that are totally plain as she can't bear 2kinds of thread on the inside of her socks. The difference is now we know what she likes and can make sure her clothes work for her and she can articulate what she needs. Hang in there. It will pass (or at least ease.)

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