Eight tips to stop your sensitive child from removing their clothes

Do you have a sensitive child who struggles with the feel of clothes? Read eight expert tips to help them stop removing them and feel more comfortable.

As parents and caregivers, most of us have experienced our children removing their clothing due to discomfort, and oftentimes at the worst possible times. And with holidays, celebrations, and even colder weather, clothing sensitivity is often exacerbated.

We contacted Julia DeNey, fashion expert and founder of Sense-ational You to explain how to avoid these situations.  

1) Understand what makes your child sensitive 

The first step to targeting the problem of clothing removal is learning to recognize and respect your child’s sensory needs. Each kid will have specific triggers; knowing them is essential to finding a solution.

The right fit and fabric make all the difference, especially if your child has sensory issues. We recommend soft, breathable materials without tags or seams that irritate the skin. 

2) Create a comfortable environment

Whenever possible, adapt your child’s environment to minimise sensory overload. At home, this includes things like regulating the temperature and utilising non-fluorescent lighting. Out and about, dress for the weather, and use things like headphones to minimise noise. The less sensory input, the less likely your child will be to remove clothing. 

3) Practice desensitization techniques 

Introduce new clothing items gradually. Let them touch and hold new clothes before wearing them, and have them wear items for short periods, followed by positive reinforcement. 

4) Involve your child in their clothing choices 

Empowering your child by involving them in selecting their own clothes will give them a sense of control and help them feel more comfortable with new and different clothing items. 

5) Establish a dressing routine

Children with sensory issues, and even those without, thrive on routine. A dressing routine will provide a sense of security and predictability, which will lessen the likelihood of clothing removal by reducing anxiety. This can be done with the help of visual schedules and social stories. 

6) Address behavioral aspects 

Use positive reinforcement to encourage your child to keep clothes on. However, if the behaviour occurs, ensure you address it calmly without punishment. The behaviour of removing clothing is not defiance but a response to discomfort that needs to be addressed. 

7) Consider alternative clothing options 

Consider alternative clothing options if your child is uncomfortable in the clothing you are dressing them in. Many children benefit from one-piece suits, sensory-friendly undergarments, weighted vests, and compression clothing to help them self-regulate. Be aware of other clothing triggers such as zippers and embroidery that could be irritating them as well.

8) Know when to seek professional help

If you have tried all the tips or are frustrated while struggling to manage sensory issues, seeking professional advice is an excellent option. Occupational therapists or paediatricians who specialise in sensory processing will offer support and guidance. 

Understanding and accommodating your child’s unique needs is essential to help them feel comfortable and continue to adjust to the world around them

Photo by Helena Lopes