Jun 25, 2017

3 tips for clothing battles with kids...

It was a stressful season. She was 7 years old, in a new home, at a new school, and desperately trying to figure out where she "fit." 

It's really hard for kids that have had to go through tough stuff. They really have no say in what happens in their lives and they don't understand why everything keeps changing. 

We quickly noticed something that was being used as a way for our little lady to feel less out of control. She quickly decided to claw for "her way" with what she wore each day... whether that required arguing, crying, or full out screaming exactly what it was she wanted.

Now, some people would maybe go the route of 'don't sweat it' or 'it's not that big of a deal,' but it was turning into an issue with the weather-appropriateness of her choices and her always wanting church clothes vs. play clothes (and then ripping said clothes). Another thing that came up now and then was cleanliness (wanting the same outfit all the time) and whether it matched.

We decided that she desperately needed some choices in her daily life, but that she was also a child in need of adult direction. Because of this, we came up with a few simple things to help our mornings go a bit smoother. Please note that I am not a counselor or a therapist - I'm just a mom with a little experience hoping to help out another mom. Take these tips with a grain of salt, continue doing your own research, and remember that all our kiddos are unique.

#1. Make sure that they are getting enough sleep.

I often wonder how many of our morning battles would've disappeared had we first focused on her getting enough sleep. 

Especially for kiddos with a tough history (aka trauma), consistency is incredibly important. Even if they fight it - they NEED IT! 

Establish routines wherever possible. As bedtime approaches, pick a time to start your new routine and then use that same time every single night - even on weekends and vacations. The basics for ours include bath,  PJs, bedtime snack, brush teeth, book, prayers, snuggle/talk, and then sleep. 

You also need to figure out how much sleep each child needs. Test this out on a Friday night. Do your regular routine and then let them sleep as long as they need to the next morning. 

Notice that if they need 10-11 hours and they're only getting 7 or 8 on a school night... terror obviously shall ensue... 

Hold tight to routines, firm/loving boundaries, and if needed also consider supplementing a little melatonin or apply/diffuse lavender essential oil. 

#2. Give them choices.

Explain to your child (the night before) that you will put together two appropriate outfits that they can choose between for wearing the next day. 

Have a conversation about their favorite types of clothes (jeans or tunics w/ leggings) and inform them that you will do your best to choose outfits that they will like. Remind them that they will need to trust you to choose their options and then THEY get to pick their favorite of the two. 

This is best done the night before because it might take awhile for them to decide and mornings just aren't a good time for making quick decisions... or quick anything really. 

Once morning arrives - praise them for putting on the outfit they chose without a fuss! 

If a tantrum or meltdown ensues because they have since changed their mind, remind them that this was their decision and that they need to stick with it. If they can't follow through, the related consequence (for us) was that the other outfit they were trying to wear that day was taken away for the week. 

Did we get attitude and tears for this? Oh heck yes, but we were consistent and it didn't take long for her to realize that we weren't just being mean. We were actually offering her the gift of routine, helping her make decisions, and then stick with them. 

#3. Remove unnecessary distractions.

Especially if your child struggles with things like impulsivity, anxiety, executive functioning issues, is easily overwhelmed, or has something like fetal alcohol spectrum disorder - minimalism is very helpful. 

Consider how many outfits (or toys) your child owns and how many they NEED to own. Most people would be shocked if they pulled a tool from the KonMari method and put all their clothes in a pile on the floor to see how much they actually had.

Get rid of or at least put away any excess so that your child won't be so overwhelmed. With fewer items they will actually wear and hopefully love all of the items they have available to them. 

Notice when they start saying that they have nothing to wear and then check their closet and drawers.. if there are a ton of perfectly good clothes that they won't wear - consider that it just isn't worth the space they're taking up. They may have sensory preferences and the feel of those outfits could be a struggle or the patterns could be too busy for their eyes or they just plain don't like them!  

Like most things in life, I totally get that this is all easier said than done. There will be disagreements, there may be tantrums, and these tips could very well take a long time to implement. Despite all of this though, I want you to keep in mind that you are not alone in your struggle and that someday this too shall pass. 

We are living life 2 years after our issues with this all began and the difference is night and day. It WILL get better - just hang in there.

May you be blessed and highly favored today and always by our mighty Savior. He's a great help in times of trouble. Lean on Him and seek His guidance above all else...

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