A tale as old as time, kids vs. socks. You find them in the backseat of the car, under the couch, on the kitchen floor, everywhere but on their feet. During the summer months, this battle can be heeded with bare feet and sandals. But as we head into September with back to school and cooler temperatures the quandary once again begins.
Every child is unique and may have their owns reasons for their vendetta against socks but in general, this issue has two common explanations. The first is sensory issues. Even if your child hasn't been diagnosed with a sensory disorder, the experience of wearing socks may still be uncomfortable for them. Whether it's the feel of the toe seams, tightness of the cuff around their ankle, or a bump under their foot from a wrinkle or snag.
Human feet contain about 8000 nerve endings, and since children aren't as used to footwear as adults they can be more overwhelmed by the sensation of wearing socks or shoes.
So what can be done about this? Occupational Therapist and Author Cindy Chaun suggests taking time to acknowledge your child's feelings about socks. She explains that for your child wearing socks can be "a frustration between an external expectation placed on them and the perceived "pain" they may be experiencing". This means that even though for you putting on socks is two seconds of the day you barely think about, for your child it can be a major source of stress and anxiety. After acknowledging their emotional response she recommends working with your child to try options until you find something together that works for them. While this may seem like a lot of effort and hassle just for socks you can use it as a bonding experience and shared time together shopping.
The second reason kids may be against socks is the same reason they're against bedtime, baths, and broccoli. They want to assert their independence and have some control over their life. Psychologist and New York Times Best Seller, Wendy Mogel explains it as your child saying "you can make me do a lot of things, but you can't make me put on my socks".
Mogel recommends giving your child more responsibility and independence in order to combat this. She suggests that even something as simple as having your child lay out their outfit the night before, including socks, can give them a sense of control and responsibility.
And while your child may not know that black and brown shouldn't be worn together, or that before leaving the house they should "look in the mirror and remove one accessory" (Coco Chanel). Letting them choose their own outfit (no matter how creative it may be) can help with your sock struggles because if they got to choose them they are more likely to want to wear them.
So what if you try all of that and they still won't wear socks? Well the good news is that it is likely just a phase that they will grow out of. Before you know it you'll be arguing about who gets the car Friday night and you'll be dreaming about those good old sock days.