It’s the stupid shirt.
I mean the cape, the toy, the something that your child cannot live without. Some kids go through this phase quickly but for other children they seem to camp out here.
I call it the stupid shirt because its like nothing else in the world matters but that doggone shirt. I remember this particular student named Greg who was, shy, reserved and often in another world. My little space cadet wore an old, tattered batman costume-I mean this kid wore this costume every single day and his mother couldn’t get that child to wear anything else but that costume.
I secretly wondered if he even wore it in the bath.
Then there was John. John would wear this baseball jersey with everything he owned, day in and day out, for every occasion. Truthfully, the shirt begins to wear me down.. In my mind I’m like, “If I see that stupid shirt one more time, I just might . . .” Well, we don’t want to go there!
But that stupid shirt actually gives you some keen insight into your child.
Simply stated children have an extremely high need for consistency, so high they will choose something as mundane as a Halloween costume and wear it like it’s the newest thing since sliced bread – the attachment to the ‘thing’ has some clues to your child’s emotional needs.
When your child is screaming for consistency or regularity in their life look for the stupid shirt. Start there. Watch when they go for that “thing” and if they do happen to take it off observe what’s going on for them.
Identify the emotion that is connected with the shirt, what changes for them, what’s alive for them.
Most importantly look around. Have you changed? Are there any major issues going on in their life that the stupid shirt allows them to escape?
What ever the case – beyond a security blanket I have often found that children who have a high need for the shirt have other things going on for them.
Study your child and begin to connect with him. Douse him with your love and compassion. Give him the experience of connecting with the person with the same level of intensity as he has with the shirt. Don’t take the shirt away just give them other opportunities to feel the way the shirt makes them feel: safe, comfortable, familiar.