Negotiating with a terrorist, and other parenting dilemmas.

See this little angel?

She is going to be the death of me.   She was my easiest baby by far.  (Except for nursing.  I’m hoping someday I can forgive her for the multiple cases of mastitis, plus the lack of weight loss that I had so joyfully experienced while nursing my boys.)  She is bright and sassy and social and fun, and has a vocabulary far beyond her four years.  And yet, most days I want to put her on Craig’s List by 10 a.m.   Although “undiagnosed,” I’m pretty sure she has some sensory issues.  Her clothes always “feel funny.”  Her socks and especially her shoes always “bother” her.  Meltdowns ensue.  They involve crying, wailing, shrieking, flopping around on the floor, throwing shoes, and on lucky days like yesterday, a little bit of kicking and pinching.   Not to mention screaming out completely irrational things like, ” I … HATE … MY … NOSE!”  Seriously.  ?!??!

Last summer, I complained about this a little bit and DeNae suggested that I get rid of all her clothes and just buy her some loose summer dresses.  It actually worked pretty well, at least for the summer, and we’ve managed to garner a collection of a few clothing items that she considers to be comfortable and suitable.  This works until they’re all dirty, and then she spends her morning screaming down the stairs at me that “all the clothes in my closet bother me!”.  The shoes and socks situation, however, seems unsolvable.  The meltdown usually “ends” when I just drag her kicking and screaming to the car barefoot with her shoes and socks in tow, ready to begin the battle again at the place of arrival.  At that point, usually the threat of her not being able to go inside (or the threat of being left in the car … a slightly empty threat, I admit) finally convince her to put them on.  This process is a painful 10-minute exercise in on-and-off, on-and-off, open and close the straps, do it again  . . . . whimper, whimper . . . you get the idea.

Shopping for shoes is a nightmare.  Shoes, sandals, flip flops alike are all met with complete disdain and a quick eject button. (I think I’m going to try crocs this summer, but I’m not hopeful.)  Sometimes I just buy the pair that seems the most comfortable to the touch, and then we battle it out for a few months.  The solution is elusive to me.  She has been up to 90 minutes late to preschool before because of it.  I have tried to set up award systems (“If you can be all the way ready and on time to school, then we will go get the stuff to make that necklace you saw in a magazine”),  punishment (“Fine. No gymnastics today because you can’t get ready to go.”), and embarrassment (“Okay, instead of preschool today,  you have to come with me to Clark’s school and sit in the corner of the room barefoot while I do my volunteer work.”).  I have followed through with all of those by the way, except the necklace which she did not earn.  Nothing so far seems to make a difference or even move her toward more success.  By the way, she likes preschool and gymnastics, so I don’t think this is some kind of avoidance feat.

So, wise blog readers, give me your ideas, solutions, sympathy.  I’ll take any of it.

And in addition to all that, I would love to hear your ideas on a related matter:  the balance between “loving instruction” and just forcing them to do what they’re supposed to do.  I give my kids choices all the time: “Do this and get this, or do that and get that.”  I think that’s not forcing them, but helping them understand the relationship between choices and consequences.  However, sometimes I just resort to “You can’t do anything else until this gets done.  Do it!,” and obviously, in Natalie’s case, I sometimes end up literally dragging her to where she needs to be and shoving her shoes on her feet myself.  I’m starting to have concerns about how to fix this now so that I don’t have to deal with the embarrassing mess it would be when my children are big strong teenagers and I’m trying to drag them somewhere or lock them in their rooms until they’re clean … know what I mean?  Real question:  How do you not resort to “forcing” them to do things, and get to the point where they choose it on their own?  I think I mostly get it, but I feel like something’s missing.

My apologies to those of you who come to this blog thinking I’m some kind of parenting expert.  Let’s face it.  I’ve still got a lot to learn.

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45 thoughts on “Negotiating with a terrorist, and other parenting dilemmas.

  1. Sometimes we can give options, sometimes we can’t. I work in childcare and many times I’ve heard people with childhood ed degrees tell a child, “This is not an option.” They do it without anger (which was always my downfall).

    I believe there is a time for giving a child choices (lots of times), and I also believe there is a time when there is no choice given. I will admit to forcing a daughter of mine to eat broccoli (and by forcing, I mean I put it in her mouth and held her mouth shut–she was 4.) She’s 14 now and she actually does like me. It hasn’t seemed to hurt and she’ll eat broccoli without a fight, even though she doesn’t like it. I also forced my son to wear church clothes (he has clothing sensory issues too) and he now actually LIKES to wear church pants and shoes. He HATED it until he turned 12.

    I was known as a mean mom.

    You could always ask a counselor at the preschool if they have any ideas or solutions, or maybe they can provide testing if you think the sensory issues are getting in the way of her learning.

  2. I’m no expert either, and have SO SO much to learn. I don’t know what to tell you about Natalie. My oldest was the one most likely to meltdown, and he did, quite often. Giving him warnings helped… not warnings as in, “you’re about to be punished” but warnings as in, “Jordan, in five minutes I’m going to come and find you and you will have to put your shoes on.” It helped him prepare mentally I think, knowing that in a few minutes he would have to comply, rather than me just springing on him and saying come, do now!

    As for your choices/freedom question/issues, I think there are some things that simply aren’t negotiable. Helping around the house, homework, church attendance, being respectful. Yesterday, for example, Sam needed to put his laundry away. He didn’t want to, hemmed, hawed, carried on and started to get really ugly. So I put him on the front porch and told him to knock nicely when he was ready to come back inside, be respectful, and fulfill his responsibilities. (we live in the woods… no neighbors to wonder why I locked my kid outside, and plenty of windows so I knew he was safe) He threw some stuff into the yard, kicked the door a few times, and then fifteen minutes later knocked, came inside and put his clothes away. I think kids can only handle choices as big as they are, you know? I also think as your kids get bigger, you will find more and more opportunities to let them exercise their agency and learn what consequence feels like. When they are little, sometimes you have to require compliance. Because you’re the Mom and you know best. :)

    • This is what I have done with my son, he would scream at the top of his lungs in short 15 second intervals. He also wouldn’t sleep unless the play pen was turned on top of him – this was a long 6 months. Now my 4 year old daughter is extremely picky about her clothes and hair. She get tired or and upset tummy if she even thinks I Might ask her to do something. And the grand finale’ in Stake Conference on Sunday is says in a very audible voice church makes her puke. I really think that it is just an age thing. Kids are trying to learn how to express them selves and can’t. In there little minds who cares if they don’t wear shoes or if the purple flower shirt does not match the plaid shorts. Pick your battles and stand your ground when necessary. Some day they will be teenagers and you will wish the shoes were your only issue :-)

  3. Honestly – this is a situation where you should ask your doctor to evaluate her for sensory issues. There are many occupational therapies that can help children overcome (or at least manage hypersensitivity). I know that a good friend of mine used a brushing technique that really helped her son (his sensitivity sounds similar to your daughters). He was eventually diagnosed with a form of sensory processing disorder (still unfortunately a controversial diagnosis) & was helped with occupational therapy through the school. If her preschool has any type of occupational therapists, ask them to conduct a sensory evaluation. This is not to say that all of the battles will disappear, but there is hope. I’m sure that it is just as aggravating for her as it is for you. She’s just not able to figure out how to deal with the situation.

  4. I meant to add – that you are showing great parenting by being aware of the issue & recognizing that there are some sensory issues involved! Great job!!

  5. oh boy! It’s like you took a page from my journal! :) I have a 4 year old daughter who is EXACTLY the same! A friend of mine recommended a book called “Raising your spirited child” by Mary Sheedy Kercinka. It comforted me to know I am not alone AND it had some good tips. I also agree that a doctor may be able to give you some resources that you may not be aware of for the sensory issues. My daughter LOVES dresses, which is a shame because she is the 2nd of 3 girls and so it is such a pity that I have to shop all over again for her instead of letting her wear hand me down blue jeans because the material feels funny to her and so she won’t wear them. LitERaLLY won’t wear them (and I honestly don’t think she is just being a “brat” I truly believe it bothers her tremendously). Motherhood is complicated isn’t it? Just when you think you have something figured out…another puzzle to solve. Good luck! Sending a prayer your way. :)

  6. When I was growing up, my two-years-younger brother was all of that, plus stubborn and obstinate and silently entrenched. His socks had to come to right HERE and they could not touch his pants and heaven help us all if they had lumps. He wanted his pants to not touch his legs — thank goodness those were the days of parachute pants (remember those, breakdancers?) and so my mom just bought a bunch of those and rotated them in and out. I can’t tell you how many second hand bowls of cereal I ate because Jared’s milk came past the little ring half way down the side of the bowl (remember those tupperware cereal bowls that everyone had?). And if he would not comply, he was required to go to work with my dad (owns his own pharmacy, still) and sit in a chair until he was ready to go to school, or school was over. I’m talking kindergarten here. Full day kindergarten. And he would sit in that chair with his arms folded and stare down anyone who tried to talk him into compliance.

    I tell you this to give you some hope for the future: he’s a great daddy. He’s our Gospel Doctrine teacher. He has friends. He carries on witty and intelligent conversation, and is extremely sharp and well-read. He is relatively normal. He grew out of all of those behaviors — and learned to manage the ones he didn’t outgrow.

    One of my twins (the one not in therapy — ha, ha) must have his shoes so tight that I’m sure the circulation is being cut off. We once waited in the car on Sunday morning for twenty minutes for him to finally get his shoes (zip-tied Keens — the toes curl up now because he tightens them so excessively) JUST RIGHT. His feet are extremely narrow, so I can’t buy him sneakers that velcro because he runs out of velcro to stick to. That means we wear tie sneakers and he has learned that I will either retie one shoe or the other but not both — not only do they have to be tight enough, but, “They have to be the same tight, Mommy.” So we’ve spent a lot of time talking about what scares him about his shoes. He is convinced they’re going to fall off if they’re not tight enough, and I have not yet been able to change his mind. Funny thing is, he’ll wear crocs, the loosest shoes on the planet, with no problem. So I feel your pain. It’s maddening to clearly identify a problem and then have zero success solving it, and then run out of resources. I’ll be checking back to read your other comments and see if any of the advice might be applied to my own situation!

    (What about some super-soft socks that she loves and you can buy, like, 10 pair so she can wear the same socks under every pair of shoes? May not be attractive, but it might at least get you out the door. And even if she does have sensory issues, you still have to deal with the day to day ramifications of the resulting behavior. I’ve learned this with the twin who is in therapy — he’s still young to be medicated and officially diagnosed, and so the therapy helps us deal with the behaviors that keep him from reaching his potential at school: controlling his impulses that lead to speaking loudly out of turn, touching people who don’t want to be touched — as in, grabbing shoulders or talking very close to someone’s face, stuff like that, because learning to control the impulses and reactions we have is, let’s face it, absolutely important and necessary. Harder for some than others, but a huge part of growing up.)

    Okay. I’m done now.

  7. And is she super smart? Try “Living with Intensity” about gifted kids and their idiosyncrasies. It helped me see that some of my children’s “symptoms” are expressions of an active and nimble mind, that forms opinions and makes judgments intellectually before the developmental self is ready to catch up.

  8. oh and another thing. I am sure you are already doing this, but one suggestion in the book that helped us is giving her “transition time”. We let her know that in 5 minutes her time is up and she must get dressed or what ever the task may be. I also noticed that she loves it when I show her the hands on the clock and say, when the long hand gets to THIS number and then I point to it…that will be 5 minutes and we have to do “x,y,z”. It really helps her to feel control of a situation if she knows what will happen next and can look and see for herself that it is time for the next transition. Another thing that has seemed to help is that I put a hanging shoe organizer in her closet. On Saturday she helps me *choose* the outfits she wants to wear for the week. Clothes that she and I both know from experience that she will actually wear comfortably. We fill a whole weeks worth of outfits or whatever will get us to the next wash day and then she can choose from those outfits each day. It helps to control the meltdowns and the power struggles and it also is good because I know she will wear them comfortably and not be bothered by texture or whatever.

  9. I’m struggling right now with loving instruction and forcing too. So I hope someone gives the secret answer. Right now I’m studying Elder Robbins talk. There’s some good advice in that which I’m trying to incorporate.
    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’s not a parenting expert.

  10. Thanks for all your comments so far. Here are a few more details to add into the mix. She IS very bright, and does well in preschool. She was an early talker and is a quite sophisticated conversationalist. She has begun to read even though she wont start kindergarten until Fall of 2012. The meltdowns only happen during the getting-ready part or time-to-go stages of the day. It doesn’t seem to interfere with her learning, behavior or participation once she gets there. I’m pretty convinced this is a stage she will grow out of, but right now she doesn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with it. Sometimes I don’t either. :)

  11. I am a 29 year old who, as a child, had sensory issues. I think my mom could really relate to the things you are going through. I can’t really give any advice – I know for me nothing my mom did seemed to work. Somehow, I learned to deal with it. My mom was patient and tried to help me find things that would work for me. A child doesn’t always have the words to express how or why things that bother her. The best she can do is show you they bother her (screaming, crying, whatever it takes). As an adult I can say socks bother me because they are either too tight around my ankles or too loose and they fall down, the heel never seems to stay where it should and the seam at the toe rubs me feet and irritates my toe nails (that probably all sounds crazy). Because I am an adult I have a bit more freedom to choose without someone suggesting I do it differently – if it is snowing outside and I don’t want to wear shoes, I don’t have to and no one will say one thing about it. I have also had time to explore options and find out what works for me – which fabrics, which pants, shoes, and so on. It is most likely that she will either grow out of it or she will learn to deal with it. That has been my experience anyway.

  12. Before you buy socks put your hands in them to see if you can feel the seam. My hubby and one of my sons cannot wear socks with poorly sewn seams. Gold Toe socks are usually pretty good. Target carries Auro socks for kids which are Gold Toe. My niece has super sensitive skin and my sister buys leggings to put under dresses and skirts in the winter to help her.

  13. My daughter had “problems” with her clothes too: they itched or were uncomfortable. I had to remove about 90% of all the tags on her clothes; at first, I was not very happy about it but at the end I comprimised to do so, who was this hurting? And then she got into the thing of her underwear being “wet” after she went to the bathroom; we wiped her “pee” & she still felt wet. So it started out with her changing her Dora/Princess/Helly Kitty underwear 3-4 times a day then to once a day & now she is done with that “stage”. However, I made it very clear to her that it was nothing wrong with her panties & if she continued, that we would no longer buy her anything. The same with clothes: I have given her the freedom to choose her own clothes; she started when she was about 3 years old & man oh man was it never color coordinated but she was choosing. Granted she was at home but when it came time to go to Church or outings, I was the one to choose the clothes. I give her about 2-3 options & she can choose from there. There are times when she cries & does not agree & it’s not fun but hey, we both compromise & it works out for both of us. I am learning that these are just stages in their little lives & that I need to live thru them with the most patience that I can (believe me, it’s HARD at times). We do struggle with this at times still but I let her know that there are options & she can choose. And I can also choose to react with negativity/impatience or with strength/positiveness. It’s a learning challenge but it will pass. Also, I let her know that when she is done crying & has chosen something to wear, I will walk back in to her room but for now, I walk out on her & let her settle on her own (if it gets to the point she is just not understanding). That has worked, pretty well actually. Walk out & let her settle on her own & decide. Good luck!

  14. The Out-of-Sync Child and The Out-of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz. Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel. These are three books that have helped immensely as we strive to help our sweet 3-year-old deal with her sensory issues.

    • I also wanted to agree with Erin by saying that behavior is communication; at 4, she may not be able to express exactly *why* these things bother her, only that they *do*.

  15. Someone else mentioned this too, but if you haven’t already, look up “sensory processing disorder.” BEEN THERE. My oldest has had issues since he was born. He wouldn’t eat foods that were hot, cold, or had certain consistencies – like mashed potatoes, yogurt, or pudding. (Still won’t.) He wouldn’t eat ice cream until he was 6! His clothes are always “scratchy” and his shoes “feel funny.” For years he was ultrasensitive to noise. Picture a kid who goes to Primary and keeps his hands over his ears for the entire duration of singing time. He can’t stand being touched lightly, and doesn’t register when he’s touching other people or things way too hard.

    He’s not “diagnosed” either, but I found the SPD checklist and suggestions extremely helpful! My husband is an occupational therapist and he fully endorses the therapy “techniques” (not nearly so formal as they sound.) They’ve definitely helped Jacob.

    Anyway, hang in there! Believe me, I empathize with your frustration. The good news is that Jacob has grown out of or learned to manage a LOT of his sensitivities. I hope that will be the case with your little girl too. She’s so lucky to have a patient, caring mama like you! (NOT sarcasm.) Oh, and prayer works wonders too. :)

  16. Wow that is rough! I might have her checked for sensory issues. I too struggle with helping my kids choose to make the right choices. My husband turns everything into a game, but when I am so tired I forget and start yelling again. Sigh. The constant battle between the natural mom and the spiritual mom. I hope you can figure it all out!

  17. I agree with much that has already been said. Jen B. mentioned a brushing technique, my brother also had/has sensory issues and I remember an OT coming over and teaching my Mom how to brush him. I think it worked some. I remember socks being an issue to. I’ll have to ask my Mom what she finally figured out.

    I have a 4 year old who deals with all sorts of things (no need for all of the details here) but we recently made a chart of things that we wanted to do better at as a family (involving a beehive and flowers and bees) and we have seen big changes in him. I will be posting about it on my blog sometime soon. I don’t know if this would help her at all but you can take a peek when I do finally post it. :)

    I can relate but in slightly different circumstances but the same in that it consists of battles between Mommy and 4 year old. Good luck with all!

  18. Well, you are describing my SB about seven years ago. She still has issues with sensitivity (and actually, there are many in our family that do–Em’s son Ethan, Wendy’s son has been in food texture therapy, my SB and C deal with it) but they are a little better. I think one reason it is better now is because she can communicate a lot better. But, she still struggles when I just “throw” things at her–even little things like telling her it’s time to shower when she wasn’t expecting it. And, telling her she has to fold a load of towels sends her in to crying fits (remember, she’s 12) because she can’t stand the touch of them. She can only use a towel when she is wet, and it must be freshly clean. She can’t stand the feel of “old t-shirt” which is anything that is 100% cotton and has been washed more than a few times. So, we don’t buy her those anymore. When she has to wear them for a school club or something, she wears something underneath them. And I’m one of those moms that has opened every single package and brand of socks at the store and made her pick which one she could handle the best. So, that’s where we are now…and I haven’t started on food issues but that’s a different story. She’s not been officially diagnosed, but clearly, she has issues.
    So, when she was Natalie’s age, I honestly had many, many days like you are describing. The things that helped were finding some socks she could tolerate better. And giving her plenty of time to gear up to wearing them. She wore one kind of shoe nearly every day, no matter where we went and wouldn’t wear tennis shoes for years. (the teachers didn’t like this on gym day, but they got over it) Also, she wore (wears) yoga pants more than anything else. Once she had a favorite brand, I bought the same thing in three colors if I had to. I learned to care less about what she looked like and more about her comfort Not that I am accusing you of caring more about looks than comfort! I know that’s not the issue, and, frankly, sometimes shoes are just a necessity. However, socks with shoes may not be a necessity–and we had plenty of days that we did that.
    So I guess I don’t really have much concrete advice. Just sympathy, and empathy. The things that worked best for us were just me taking time to mentally gear up for the getting dressed, and giving her enough time to mentally gear up for the inevitable wearing of clothes and shoes. I’m sorry. Good luck finding shoes that will be less of a fight. The good news is hopefully Natalie will grow out of most of it, and you won’t have to throw her in the car anymore. And I think vanity is kicking in for us now–my girls would rather wear something a little more uncomfortable than be seen wearing the same pants twice in a row. And at least one of my children now showers without throwing a complete fit. And she even uses shampoo. Phew. Hang in there!

  19. I’m sitting here WISHING my spirited child would leave me alone for 5 minutes so I can read all the comments. Honestly – I know what you’re going through. You should write a follow-up post if you figure anything out! :)
    You’re an amazing mom!

  20. I was an occupational therapist in my pre-mom life. I think for the majority of us who do not have many sensory issues, it is hard to understand why putting on her shoes would be such a problem for your daughter, but when I was pregnant with my first, the hallway to get to our apartment was very poorly ventilated and on top of pregnancy-nausea, the smell of it made my whole body revolt. Some people with sensory issues struggle with smell and I had always thought, “That one seems silly. How can smell be that big of a deal?” But then I sort of understood, and understood why some people with sensory issues will do anything to get out of experiencing certain sensations. As was mentioned, Carol Kranowitz has some good books, like The Out-of-Sync Child that might give you some good ideas. She will figure it out eventually, as she keeps growing up and figuring out her body (and because of having great parents to support her), but if you get to the point where you think she might benefit from some extra help, or it is affecting your relationship with her, or affecting how she feels about herself, you might want to ask your doctor for a referral for occupational therapy (or some physical therapists do sensory integration therapy) at a children’s clinic. The research on it is hit and miss, but I have seen it help many children. They will probably work on things that will help many of her sensory systems, like vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, and she will love it while she is working hard to experience new things! Good luck.

  21. I would suggest taking her out as little as possible until she out grows the stage. You may find that it will be easier on you and easier on her to just avoid the battle. She sounds like a smart independent learner so pre-school shouldn’t be necessary. You may also find, that if the consequence is actually no more pre-school and no more gymnastics and she loves them, she will probably change pretty quickly. You can let her ride in a shopping cart at most stores so she can be barefoot at the grocery store. Carry shoes along if she wants to get out of the cart. My oldest daughter ran around in just underwear (at home) until she was 6. She is a really good 13 year old and she dresses very nicely.

  22. You know me well enough to know that I am certainly no expert in parenting, but I will tell you that Maddie was EXTREMELY bright intellectually as a child, and I made the mistake of believing that because she could carry on almost adult like conversations as a 4 year old, that she could reason, and behave emotionally like an adult as well. I wondered why we were having meltdowns, and temper tantrums and irrational outburst, until I understood that her emotional development was entirely separate from her intellectual development, and in Maddie’s case — she was actually emotionally immature for her age when it came to dealing with frustrations and disappointments. I’m not saying this is Natalie’s case — she sounds like she has some serious sensory issues that she will probably outgrow at some point. In the mean time I suggest moving some place very warm where Natalie can go outside 10 months out of the year in no shoes and with clothing optional. Perhaps……Arizona?????

  23. Because i am evil I would probably force her to just wear it, and take away priviledges otherwise….

    But I guess I’d let her make some small choices.

    That’s a toughie. Has she always been like that?

  24. My thought on things like this is almost always: “This to shall pass”…It will…She may be 26, but it will. :) If you have talked to your doctor, done tests, and they aren’t concerned, then have confidence that you have done all you can. Kudos for recognizing what may be a problem. The only thing that I can think of is the totally ignoring it technique. You have probably tried that-so really I’ve got nothing! My advice: keep praying, breathing deeply, and liking her. It is easy to love them, but it isn’t so easy to always like them. :) That is all easier said than done, especially when someone from the outside of the situation is saying it…You will figure this out and it will get better. In a few years (or decades) you will look back and laugh at the stages she went through. I will pray for you and your little terrorist. Good luck, may the force be with…I am trying to think of as many ways to send you some “this too shall pass” good vibes…

  25. My son Noah has Sensory issues so I totally feel your pain. It can be a real challenge. Here is what I’ve learned:
    1) Occupational Therapy CAN help. Check out The Easter Seals OT at The Childrens Center. The OT there specializes in Sensory and she has been a pleasure to work with.
    2) The book: The Out of Sync Child has helped me a ton when trying to understand and work with Noah’s issues.
    3) I’ve been told that sensory issues for kids is like everything in the world making your skin crawl. I’ve had to really pay attention to when Noah is being intentionally defiant (which he does do) and when he is losing control because everything around him is driving him crazy. It’s hard. But I’ve found that he isn’t as defiant when I don’t push him past his sensory levels.

    And finally… try putting her socks on inside out. It’s usually the seams that cause the irritation.

    Good luck! If you want to chat about it or to get the OT’s info, you know where to find me.

    **hugs**
    Crystal

  26. You do have my sympathy. I dealt with the seams-of-the-socks issues with some of my children (who now, sorry to say, are dealing with their own children with those same issues. It will get better!

  27. Oh…. muchos abrazos para ti!
    Wished I had more to say, but this parenting train holds marvelous surprises and challenges and many times there’s just not much that we can say to make it better.

    Something that has helped immensely lately has been information from this site, http://www.ahaparenting.com/ where I can quickly browse specifics and get solid ideas to try and it has helped a ton when I am clueless.

  28. Have you tried Sensory Integration Therapy? I think it would be well worth your time for an evaluation! We have had some of those issues here. My little ones (4, 5, 6 at the time) have gone outside in the snow in bare feet because it was time to go and they refused to get their shoes on. I refused to carry them. I can’t say they only had to do it once, but maybe only twice. But if the problem stems from an issue she can’t control, then that doesn’t seem very fair :(.

  29. I am the mother of 4 grown up daughters, three of whom have sensory issues, all different. Now that the daughters are grown they take care of these issues themselves. I was really sad when one of my daughters read me a book that she said described how it felt when she was growing up. Noises were noisier, cold was colder, smells were smellier, someone touching her felt like fire. With one daughter everything had to be loose as a goose and she couldn’t wear anything around her waist because her belly button couldn’t breathe. Nobody had heard of sensory issues back then. I learned that my kids had very strong personalities and I needed to pick my battles. I wish that I understood better what they were going through. It’s rough on the mom to maintain her cool, but can you imagine what it feels like to be the kid that every sound sounds like fingernails across the chalkboard? Or the kid who’s socks rub her raw. Or the kid who has panic attacks when she goes to a mall because of all the noise and commotion. Or the kid who only eats cheese and noodles because everything else feels and tastes disgusting in her mouth? Or the kid who can’t go to church dances because the music sounds is too loud. No one wants to be that kid. I wish that I had been more patient with them now that I know how they felt.

  30. Oh and by the way. My girls have an 80 year old grandma with similar sensory issues. I can’t tell you how many pairs of socks my MIL has given me because she can’t stand the way they feel.

  31. Move to Arizona. Then she could just run around barefoot all day.

    No? Hmmmm. Tricky customer.

    Well, I have a friend whose son has sensory issues, particularly with shoes, and he LOVES his Crocs. Even wears them to church.

    Can you trick her into some kind of magical sticker that cures all bothersome shoes? I’m wondering if you let her buy The Shoes of Her Dreams, and let her go crazy with Magic Markers and stickers, she might just love them enough to actually wear them.

    I’m also all about professional help – really.

  32. I was going to suggest trying crocs. My daughter has issues with things being too tight. And everything is too tight. But crocs have worked for her. We found some fleece lined ones and they are working great for the winter/rainy spring we are having. Good luck to you.

  33. Natalie is so beautiful and spunky!

    I think the biggest thing I’ve learned with my kids is they are who they are… “warts and all”

    Some of their quirks drive me bonkers…

    And like you, I try to help them deal with things… it’s so hard when you can’t help them, but it’s a quite the ride to see what these little people will turn out to be :)

  34. I haven’t read the other comments, but the first thing that comes to my mind is have checked or played around with her diet? Food colorings are one thing that come to my mind, along with wheat and dairy that can cause behavior problems. It’s something worth checking into if you haven’t already.
    Good Luck!!!

  35. Sophia is a little (okay, a lot) like this, too. Not with sensory issues, just being very very very strong-willed and not always (okay, nearly never) wanting to do what I need her to do. I don’t have an answer, but I did find the book “Have a new kid by Friday” to be helpful and give me some strategies. Not that they always work, but they do sometimes!

  36. I’m dealing with similar things with my 6-year-old. Just met with his teacher and school counselor yesterday to talk over some escalating “issues” we’re having. It is frustrating and frightening and all of it. I am going to try the book InkMom suggested, as I suspect that might be part of his problem.

  37. You do such a great job of describing sensory issues! I loved it. As a mom of a sensory challenged kiddo and therapist who sees these challenges all the time, I have to say the solutions aren’t easy, but they are out there. Another mom already described how her daughters were able to give more insight into their world as they got older. Those insights can be good in seeing their world through their eyes. All the books by Carol Kranowitz are great…I think I have a few listed on my site.

    P.S. Found your blog linked to another blog…love the general conference book club idea. I think I’ll join!

  38. We had sock battles until I discovered stride rite sells special socks. I think they’re called comfort seam. It’s all we buy now. They’re great. Good luck!

  39. Okay so I am back with an additional thought. I was just putting my little boy to bed and while I was lying on his floor for some reason my brain went back to your situation once again. I don’t know if this idea would work for her or if you are just exhausted with all of these thoughts and insights your receiving but I had the thought I figured I might as well share. So here is my train of thoughts:

    1. Give ample warning before shoes are going to be put on.
    2. Have 2-3 options of shoes she can wear for the day. Let her pick which one she thinks feels the best on any given day.
    3. If she puts them on without a huge fit give her a sticker and let her put it on her shoe or a chart and give a ton of praise.
    4. When she reaches a certain number of stickers have her leave her shoe outside her door at night and the magic “I put my shoes on without a major breakdown” fairy can leave her a prize in her shoes.

    I know this would be the kind of thing that might work for my little boy but with sensory issues maybe it is less a matter of will and more a matter of her feeling like she can’t. Let us all know how things go.

  40. Looks like you’ve had some awesome feedback, and I’m not sure what else to add. If you haven’t already tried it, I would suggest a Mommy-daughter shoe shopping date, where you have all the time in the world and no rush, and she can try on every darn pair of shoes in the mall if necessary.

    As for giving our kids choices, I’m the same way. I give them their options, I tell them the rewards and consequences, and let them choose. But sometimes I do have to force the issue. Sometimes there are places to be and they just have to do it, and do it right now. That’s life, and that always will BE life, you know? Complete flexibility is only possible in a completely flexible world.

  41. Without reading the previous comments, I have two things to say.

    First, my SIL was this way as a little child, and she made it to adulthood.

    Second, I got a blessing about Junie a few months back when I hit the end of my rope, hoping the Lord would give me some magic pill to just get me through this. Instead, it told me that this was part of life, and that despite her awfulness, she would grow to be one of my dearest friends and said we will be close until I’m an old woman. (At that point she will probably regress and I’ll finally give her the boot, but you know.).

    This isn’t an answer that can help much, but I believe that once you’re through this rough part of her experience on Earth, you’re going to be left with a girl and then a woman who knows her mother loves her. She’ll call you from college, she’ll tell you about her troubles in high school, and she will always know, unquestioningly, that you’re going to stick with her no matter what. When you want to kill her, picture that lovely future woman. It’s the thing that helps me the most.

  42. One of the best things I’ve done for my parenting skills is to read the book It’s Just My Nature by Carol Tuttle. Give it a try and you won’t be sorry!

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