Wrangling Pants for Picky Kids

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Taking four little boys out in public on a regular basis means that there are inevitable meltdowns. People often ask how we keep it together all the time, and I answer honestly: we don’t! For the most part, we let kids be kids in all their messy, creative, effusive glory. That’s how they learn about their world. We do, however, try to pick up on mood trends and adjust accordingly. If there’s one thing in particular that’s causing an issue, we talk openly with them about how we can make things better. The latest thing to be addressed for our picky kids? Pants!

Picky kid pants crop

When summer hit, we noticed a sudden surge of tantrums around the topic of pants. Our kids had gotten into the habit of wearing ALL joggers, ALL the time. We love a comfy athleisure look, but it presented a problem as seasons changed and we became more active on a regular basis. The kids were uncomfortable. Their joggers we bought in the winter were hot, not form-fitting and not rugged enough for hiking or playground activities. So we partnered with Wrangler to sleuth out the very best pants for picky kids.

Picky Kid Pants: One Size Does Not Fit All

I empathize with my kids’ pant preferences. Everything is so new when you’re a kid, it’s like your senses are heightened, Kids notice details more. I can vividly remember having sob-fests about socks because “the toes felt weird.” First and foremost, communication is key. Let them know that you’re listening and working to find their perfect fit.

Preschooler pulling up shirt

Size does matter

In talking through clothing preferences with my kids, I learned that they like different levels of “roominess” in different situations. For playtime, jeans need to be loose enough to move, but not so loose that they’re tripping over them. For everyday use, we generally size up a little bit – at least with our younger sons – because they’re like slinkies. One minute they’re squat and stout, the next they’re sprouting up like a string bean. Minion here is hitting a growth spurt where his midsection is pretty solid and muscular, but his legs are still catching up. We cuff the bottoms and use the adjust-to-fit waistband to cater to his ever-changing structure. Also handy is the ability to order certain styles in “husky” versions.

Potty training kid in jeans

Potty training is also a consideration with little kids. This dude is still in training diapers (he may be the size of a 6-year-old, but he’s only 3 and his development is right in-line with that age). When pants are pulled up-down-up-down-up-down a zillion times per day, they need to not stretch out. They also need to be sized properly to accommodate the extra bulk of a diaper or training underpants.

Sizing for Wrangler Jeans

Size choices can also vary by style and fabric. Here, Minion is wearing a size smaller than he was in the first picture because these are a softer fabric. There’s no stiffness to them so they don’t cuff as well, and he really enjoys the way they drape perfectly around his knees in this more form-fitting size.

Wrangler Flex

Materials Make a Difference

It seems obvious, but I never realized how much material could dramatically impact a kids’ comfort level in their clothing. One of the pairs of jeans we received offered an elastic waistband that moves with them and never binds. These have been the ones they reach for on our most active days, hands down. There are absolutely use occasions for pants with less give, but for running around town, these are their pick.

Outdoor Moisture wicking – Use occasions for pants

Wrangler also has an outdoor line made with moisture wicking capabilities, UPF 30 and comfort flex fabric. Nate has bought a lot of stuff from this line for himself over the years, and I was SO STOKED to see that there was a kid version of it. This holds up to our long photoshoot days where we go from hiking a mountain to wandering desert hills to roaming city streets in a day. We may be cranky by the end of it all, but at least we’re not also sweaty and uncomfortable.

Kids cargo pants

Consider your Cut

We’ve already talked sizing, fabric choices and fit variations, but there are also some smaller details that make a big difference in terms of utility and comfort. We quickly learned that this guy here – the explorative preschooler – loves cargo pants because he likes to stash stuff in the giant pockets. He’s still young enough that he’s terrible at keeping track of bags. Having a dedicated place to put his “discoveries” in his pants minimizes the amount of knick-knacks that get thrust towards Nate and I.

Slim straight jeans for kids

As for our middle dude, he’s a bit of a fashion junkie. He’s the one in our house with a collection of bow ties, suspenders and top hats that he adds to his ensembles at-will. He likes slim straight jeans because they’re on-trend and he thinks they make him look “cool.”

I tend to agree.

Wrangler jeans holding a squirt gun

This dude – the ever-practical one in the mix – prefers the jeans with flex for comfort fabric.. Classic, comfortable, gets the job done all day long without any fuss.

For this guy, squirt guns are obviously the priority. Pants are an afterthought.

Picky kid pants

And the littlest dude? Well, we don’t really know yet! Lucky for him, our Wrangler duds withstand tons of activity. So he’ll have a massive selection of hand-me-downs to choose from.

Do you have picky kids with different style preferences?


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