37 answers

3 Year Old Boy Wants to Be a Girl and Wear Dresses

Please help with my request. I have the sweetest most wonderful baby boy who tells me that he wants to be a girl. Everytime I wear a dress or skirt, he asks me if he can wear it. Whenever we are at a clothing store, he asks me to buy him a dress. It is getting worse the older he is getting. I know it is coming from all the girls at daycare when they dress up like princesses. At first, since he wasn't even 3 yet, I didn't worry about it. I let him wear my pink silk bathrobe around the house can call himself a princess. My daycare provider suggested that I stop letting him wear dresses and tell him that boys don't wear dresses because he is 3 now and it is time to break that habbit. I don't want to mess him up if he feels female, but I don't want him teased when he starts school either. Any suggestions out there?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful advice. I read them all and took them to heart! I am torn because I will accept my son for who he is, but was concerned. I went out and purchased him a conductor, batman, and fireman costume for him as well as a pink ballet skirt. From what I read, this is normal at this stage and most likely just a phase. I am going to get a trunk next and label it costumes and put all of them in there with his old Halloween costumes and let him wear what he wants at home. When we are out I will keep him in his clothes explaining to him that we don't wear costumes out of the house.
I thank you all again for your support and words of encoragment,

Featured Answers

Teaching him that boys do not wear girl clothes,and enforcing just that will also teach him to be a leader and not a follower, the head and not the tail. Boys just do not wear girl clothes.

I would go out & buy dress up clothes for boys. That would be costumes or real dress up clothes, like a suit. I think it just might be he wants to dress up when the girls do. With the robe thing, get him his own. He probably would love it.

There are several boys in my daughter's 4 yo preschool class that still run around in the girl dress up clothes. My guess is because they aren't allowed to do it at home. I would ignore it. If you stop paying attention to it, it won't have the fascination involved. I think it is normal for kids this age to dress like princesses. When my daughter was 3 and in a mostly boy class she would dress up like the boy characters and tell me she was a boy. The phase passed. Maybe if it really bothers you, you could get him some boy dress up clothes (superhero costumes and capes, prince costumes, etc.)

More Answers

It's probably not that he feel female...it's probably more like he is surrounded and cared for by mostly women and children learn through imitation of their caregivers. I would make an effort to get a positive male role model for him (father, uncle, grandparent, close friend). Have them spend quality time together doing "boy" things. Let him know that it is okay to play dress up sometimes, but that he is a boy and there are certain things that girls do that boys should not. My youngest, now 4, went through a phase when he wanted to wear makeup like mommy. I put it on him and he thought he looked silly and that was it. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Stay with your instincts on this one. I'd consult with a developmental pediatrician. They can help to clarify gender indentity issues if there are any. They can also let you know what behavior is appropriate and give you strategies to help.
Good luck.

This is a tough one. You want to let him be himself even if that means dressing up in girls dresses but you also want to protect him from being teased. Can you let him dress up at home? Let home be a safe place.

awwww :-) I stongly believe in letting kids figure out who THEY are. Our job is to support them in that process and just make sure they don't get hurt. Are you a single mom? Because I worry about that with my son since I am single and my son doesn't have a stong male role model. If there are some males around, what I would do in your situtation is to encourage more time with the men in his life. Let the guys hang out, so to speak. Have them take him to ball games, to the park, to play a sport and go to museums. Hope this helps :-)

I say trust your instincts! Your son sounds happy and healthy, and very creative and full of imagination. These are all great things for him to be! Plus, you seem very accepting and loving. So he is going to be fine!

My personal opinion- let him play and try all sorts of new things. It's very unlikely that this means anything long term, except that he's a clever and creative boy! Kids don't have our hangups and society-established ideas of what's appropriate. I would worry about refusing to let him dress up and play this way, because THAT may create issues. But you know your son best, and you have to decide what you think is right for him.

And honestly, as a former elementary school teacher, I've seen kids bully and pick on each other about everything possible. From hair to shoes to habits to parents to everything. He'll learn, like all kids, how to live and thrive with others.

And with your help, he'll love himself no matter what!

You say you know this is coming from all the girls at daycare dressing like princesses. How about going to a costume store and getting some boy costumes for your son - costumes that are made with real fabric - not plastic ones.
Or if you know someone who sews...get them to make some "boy dress-ups" for your son. Examples might be: pirate, cowboy, king, soldier, policeman, and so on.
Also - you could send (to daycare) old shirts, hats, shoes from your husband or from the men's section of a thrift store. You may want to make sure that you don't get drab, plain colors. Take your son along to a thrift store and let choose some "dress-up" items from the big boys or men's section.
Personally, I would STOP letting him wear dresses. Perhaps if you take him along to a store and let him help choose his own clothes - maybe that will help.
I had a daughter who told us she wanted to be a boy when she was 4 years old. She even had her BOY name choosen. Part of her wanting to be a boy stemed from her grandparents letting her male cousin go without a shirt but when she asked to - she was told "no, girls have to always wear their shirts." She became a big tomboy - played all sorts of sports - was the only girl on a football team and the only girl on a baseball team. Now, she is all grown up. She is in the Army Reserve but also likes to be girly. She paints her nails and wears cute girl clothes but still prefers pants over dresses and the best part is that she is a mom now.

Hi C.,

I think you have gotten a lot of good advice already. Your son sounds like he has a healthy curiosity for exploring the feminine side of life. This can be normal at his young age. Not all boys are into cars and guns and being dirty all the time (lol).

As a child, I used to play with a boy who loved dolls more than anything else. We would play dress up and brush his dolls' hair all the time (he had the nicest dolls in the neighborhood). His mom allowed this behaviour, and he grew up to be perfectly fine and happy in himself. He got married, and has children now, I believe.

As a first year kindergarten teacher, I had a very sweet 5-year-old in my group who loved to dress in princess outfits all the time. If the girls were playing Cinderella, he would be a princess or the fairy godmother. His mom was fine with this, but his dad was not. His dad ended up trying to "man up" his son by allowing him to watch movies that depicted men being men, but were not age-appropriate. Needless to say, this sweet boy was affected by the movies, and started acting out by wanting to do "movie star kisses" with the girls in the class. We had to do more damage control because of the father's decision to try to make his son more masculine than we ever had to do because a boy wanted to wear a dress.

Another thing you might consider is that because you are a single mom, and you are his main role model, your son probably looks up to you, and loves you, and so dressing in your clothing makes him feel closer to you. It can't hurt to have positive male role models around. I am also a single mom of a boy, so I know it's not easy, but I have my dad here, so that helps.

I wouldn't worry about your son's actions, but if I were you I would talk to him about how some kids might tease him for his choice to wear dresses. You can make it clear that you support him no matter what he wants to do, but also warn him that the world is not always as kind and understanding as those who know him, and love him, best.

Best wishes to you...


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