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Why does my 3 1/2-year-old care so much about the way he's dressed?

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Why does my 3 1/2-year-old care so much about the way he's dressed?


I understand how frustrating this can be. Some children are quite perfectionistic. In addition to concerns about clothing, they're easily frustrated and very concerned about making mistakes. This type of behavior seems to run in families, although it's unclear how much is due to genetics and how much to family environment.

Is there anyone else in your family who likes things "just so"? Sometimes the tension over adults' strong expectations can make children more anxious about doing things "right." If you loosen up, your child may do the same.

Also, talk in front of your child about the mistakes you make. Spill something on the floor in front of your child (even on purpose) and lightheartedly comment, "Oh, look at that spill. No big deal!" or some such remark. This lets your child know that it's okay to make mistakes.

If the problem continues over the next year, speak with your pediatrician. A referral to a child psychologist or psychiatrist often can help.


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