My toddler hates getting messy

Whenever my toddler gets messy, he has a total complete meltdown. not just crying to clean up, but looks so overwhelmed and even panicky. This happens when he’s outside and dirt gets on him, when he gets wet outside the bath (like something spills on him) and he refuses to play with paints or other things like that. A friend mentioned it might be a sensory thing, but I’m really not sure where to begin dealing with this. At first I thought it was just a phase, but it’s been going on for a while now. Any tips?

Hey! Let’s see if we can get some OTs to pop on and point you in the right direction.

@BreeMilani @OTLisa @OT.ideas.for.littles @Otdayna @OTMamacita @tots-mary @Sarak

This must be stressful, for both you and your little one! I have a few followup questions for you… Did your little one tolerate tummy time and crawl when he was an infant? And now that he’s older, will he go barefoot or does her prefer to have socks on at all times? Is he a picky eater? Does he seem to mind when he gets food on his face? Will he wear all sorts of clothing textures? Your answers to these will give me a better idea of how much this is interfering with his day to day functioning.

Something you could try right away is to encourage messy play with food. If he likes yogurt, put some yogurt on the tray of the highchair or on the table and see if he’ll play with it.

Definitely try starting with food. My son (2yo) stresses about messes as well. Sometimes I place the messy item in a ziploc for him to explore first. Once he is comfortable with it I can take it out for him to explore further. I always have wipes available if it feels like too much for him. For instance, I’ll put paint and paper in a bag for him to finger paint. Sometimes he’ll continue with it outside of the bag and sometimes he doesn’t want to.

these questions give me a lot to think about. I actually want to pay attention more to get those answers cause I’m not 100% sure. thank for the advice

really helpful advice! I love the ziploc idea. thank you!!