23 answers

My Little Boy Likes Dressing in Mommy's Clothes

My precious little three year old boy has started to play dress up with my clothes. When he's being too quiet I know just where to find him, in my closet trying on everything from my lingerie to my dresses. When I walk in on him he jumps out of his skin and seems very embarrassed and frightened that he's been "caught". I have not reacted to it in ANY way, negatively or positvely. I have not discouraged it but have non chalantly said to him "oh look who's playing dress up!" After realizing it wasn't a "one time" kind of thing I immediately ran into the garage and took out a huge box of costumes and let him go at it to encourage "dress up". That lost it's charm within a day and he was right back to dressing up like "a lady".
Has anyone had this experience and more importantly can anyone offer any explanations and advise for this behavior. I understand curiosity and girls clothes is always more fun than boys but he seems to "enjoy" wearing the clothes if you know what I mean.

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Thank you all for your responses, they're very helpful and supportive and I appreciate them all. I don't care if he's gay,that's not a problem in my mind at all my concern is a possible transgender issue which is definately something I would want to help him. I think it's all going to be ok from what I am reading and I am both releived a bit and feel in good company. Thank you all!

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Not to worry, yet. My son used to do that when he was about that age! and he is as boy as you can get!lol He especially loved my heals. I attempted giving him his daddy's shoes but he liked mine better (they are smaller, lighter, and more colorful). At this point in a child's life they are in admiration of the opposite sex parent its called odepus complex. By age five, he will be wanting to look like and do anything his daddy does. Right now everything mom does is cool and he wants to be like you:)

2 moms found this helpful

My five year old did the same thing when he was between 2-3 years of age. Now he won't try them on anymore. He does like to wear high heels and walk around the house so if my shoes are missing then I know who did it. I wouldn't worry they go through those phases. My eight year old use to beg me to paint his nails and let him wear makeup he has now grown out of the phase about 4 years ago. And my two boys are the typical boys, they get dirty and play sports. I think boys do that cause they are around their mommy and see what she does and what to be just like her. But they do get out of it, now they want to be just like their daddy.

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Not to worry, yet. My son used to do that when he was about that age! and he is as boy as you can get!lol He especially loved my heals. I attempted giving him his daddy's shoes but he liked mine better (they are smaller, lighter, and more colorful). At this point in a child's life they are in admiration of the opposite sex parent its called odepus complex. By age five, he will be wanting to look like and do anything his daddy does. Right now everything mom does is cool and he wants to be like you:)

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Nearly ALL children that age go through a period of identifying with their opposite sex parent, sometimes to the point of wanting to dress and act like them. It's healthy and normal. It's also possible that its more than that and your child is experiencing some gender confusion or other issues. In that case, a trained, informed professional consultant would be helpful to you in determining how to go forward. I wouldn't jump to any conclusions just from the dressing up......I've been an early childhoood specialist for over 25 years and have never met a 35 year old boy who didn't go through this to varying degrees....some liked to paint their nails, some liked to be the mom when playing house, etc. This is an age when little ones are learning to empathize with others and they do that by pretend play a lot and they particularly pretend about being their opposite sex parent, often.

L.

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He's only three,so I'd say let him play. If you don't want him in your clothes, then dress up stuff is fine, but if he needs some silky scarves and tutus, hit the thrift store and let him have fun. What is gender specific is not what three year olds often recognize, they just like what they like. boys like to be like Mommy because they love and idolize us (and don't we wish that could last?) so the exploration is healthy and normal. No worries.
P. (mom of three boys!)

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Is he just wearing your clothes or just the soft silky things. If it is the soft silky things like a slip or nighty. Cut your slip or nighty into a blanky and see if it is just a security blanket that he needs in that soft fabric. That is just a guess. I am a teacher and I use to work in daycare and I have seen moms that have done that.

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Hello A., I did not read all of the other comments so I may be repeating. It is no big deal. Just encourage him to play with daddys clothes also. Set aside a pile that he is allowed to get into. Please please just do not let anyone make you feel as though he is having "gender issues." My sons favorite color was pink for like 1 1/2 years. No biggy, it is a pretty color. Now it has changed several times and he is just now (5 1/2) noticing that pink is used for girls usually.

If your homelife is stable and loving your son will be just fine!

1 mom found this helpful

This is totally normal. Children like to copy their parents. If you are the one home all day he will try to be more like you...including wearing your clothes. I wish I could send you pics of my son at 3 years dressing like a princess. Tiara, shoes, beads, the whole bit. Now he want's to be Darth Vader (he is 5 now). Boys are always hearing how beautiful girls are and they are so pretty. I did start complimenting my son more and telling him how handsome he was, but I also didn't let him dress up in private. I bought a $19 dress up box from Target. It had several princess outfits and accessories in it and he loved dressing up in the stuff. I did not want him to feel ashamed of himself for "playing". Play dress-up with him. Make it fun. He will outgrow it, promise.

1 mom found this helpful

Get the camera! Capture it now, because in a blink, he will be so done with it! All those good blackmail photos for when he's a teenager will be gone...

I recall that children become more aware of gender differences around 3-4. So, his amusement sounds like it is more the recognition that he is pretending to be something he isn't... as in, he is aware he is a boy but its funny to dress up like mom.

1 mom found this helpful

when I was a little girl, like 4-7 yrs old, i used to play "house" with a boy my age who lived down the street. One of us would wear heels and a purse and be the mommy, one would wear dad's old big shoes and a jacket and be the daddy, and i had a kitchen playhouse setup n the garage. Only problem was, this little boy and I always ended up fighting over who was gonna be the mommy. I found out later, when I was a parent myself, that he ended up gay. It could be, sorry to say this, that your son could end up that way too. Is your husband a strong figure in the household? or are you the boss of the family. Usually if they have a strong, masculine manly type of dad, they want to be just like the dad. Does he play with boy toys? does he like army, and transformers, toy guns, etc??? if not, prepare yourself for the fact that he may end up more "feminine" than you would like. and decide how you are going to deal with THAT should it happen.

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