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My daughter does not like any clothes

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

 I write this email because I'm Desperate. I have a 5 year old 
daughter and I do not know how to handle it.
Among many behavioral problems, we are now going through a phase in 
which she does not wear any clothes.
 Here in Brazil we are in autumn and is already cold, because she 
does not wear pants or blouses with long sleeves. When I ask why she 
can not explain myself except to say that the clothes the bothers.
 This not only happens with winter clothes, but with most any outfit. 
I would say that she only wears a blouse, two shorts and three 
 I try to talk to her, give her the option to choose clothes, nothing 
else works.
 I do not know what else to do.
 I need help.
 Ana Paula


post #2 of 4

Shorts? Dresses? Would she wear those?

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Some dresses (3), a few sweaters (2), some shorts (2) and a pair of trousers.
She screams, you bite, tear their clothes, in short I do not know what to do. For all the clothes she bothers.
post #4 of 4

Ana Paula- 

I hear your frustration! You say that your daughter refuses to wear clothes "among many behavioral problems."  So I think we need to consider this issue in the context of a child who is having a hard time.  Since you don't say what her other problems are, we have only this one clue, but your note suggests at least three possibilities.


1. Sensitivity-  Your daughter may be acutely sensitive.  She is not insisting on being naked, just saying that many of her clothes bother her.  She simply feels the tags and seams and material differently than you and I might.  They REALLY bother her, just as if you wore a shirt that kept rubbing and making you itch.  This sensitivity might also manifest in other ways -- for instance, she might be the kind of person who gets bothered by noise, or finds it hard to relax and fall asleep, or is a very picky eater.  When kids are born hyper-sensitive, it's best to help them understand their sensitivities and learn to manage them.  That process begins when we can respect and listen to what they are telling us about their experience.  In this case, you would want to start by teaming up with your daughter to find clothes in which she can feel comfortable.  In the long term, if this issue gets worse, you may want to check out the possibility that your daughter may have some Sensory Integration issues.


2. Rebelliousness- It is possible that you and your daughter are in a power struggle over her clothes, as well as other aspects of her life.  If so, I encourage you to remember that you don't have to participate in every fight to which you're invited.  You will never win a power struggle with your child.  Here's a whole article to read on parenting strong-willed kids that will help you avoid power struggles:




If that is what is going on with her clothes, please make available clothes that you can bear her wearing, and let her wear what she wants. She is old enough to choose her own clothes.  She won't freeze herself, as long as you don't force her into that  by arguing with her so she INSISTS on doing without a sweater to prove she can defy you.


3. Big Feelings- Sometimes kids get VERY rigid about things, such as only being willing to wear certain clothes.  That is usually a sign that they are trying hard to control some big feelings that are building up inside them and looking for a way out.  We can help them with this by setting a kind but firm limit about something.  "I know you want to wear that dress, Sweetie, but it is in the laundry, it is wet, you will need to wear something else today." 


Children usually respond first with anger, which is a way to keep the fear or sadness or other more vulnerable feelings down.  When the child gets angry, we let them know that they are safe to let their more vulnerable feelings come up by staying calm and kind, but holding our limit.  The child may scream, cry, thrash around, sweat, get red in the face, sob, or cry without tears as these feelings come up.  We stay close, reassure them repeatedly that we are there and will keep them safe, and "witness" their big feelings. 


After the storm, kids generally seek connection and reassurance. They feel closer to us. They seem so much happier, more comfortable in their own skin.  AND they become much more flexible, because they no longer have these big feelings pushing to come out, so they don't have to control them with rigidity.  Sometimes we all just need a good cry, with someone we love to support us.  So if this is going on with your daughter, and you help her as I have described, then you will see not only more flexibility in her clothing choices, but also more cooperative behavior in general.  I need to add, though, that kids need to trust us to do this.  If you are punishing her or in power struggles, you can't expect her to trust you enough to cry like this until you do some repair work on your relationship with her.


Please let us know what you think about what is going on, and what you try and how it works out!  Good luck!

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