28 answers

Why Does My 5 Year Old Hate Clothes Now?

Just in the last 2 months, my daughter has become overly sensitive about clothes. It is either too tight (when it is not), too itchy, the elastic band bothers her, the sleeves bother her..etc. She says that she wants to wear clothes she likes, so I took her clothes shopping. Every single garment was a "no" for her in terms of comfort although she picked it out. All the garments we tried on had no elastic bands or funny frills on it either. I thought it was her mood at the time, so I tried again and the same thing happened. It is getting ridiculous. At my last wits end, I had her try on almost every piece of clothes that she owns and 96% of it (that she wore before with no problem) was a NO. She is such a struggle to get dressed especially when she is constantly whining about her clothes bothering her for one reason or the other. Is this a phase? Is my child the only one doing this at this age? Help please!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

We went thru that for a while. Fortunately she just gradually grew out of it. I found it helped when i let her either choose her own clothes or choose btwn 2 different outfits. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Unfortunately, I'm not a lot of help, but I do empathize. You are not alone. My almost 8 yr old girl has been increasingly bugged by tags in shirts. It's driving me crazy to always hear "it's itchy!" I've been cutting out a lot of tags lately! Fortunately, that seems to solve the problem with that. She has another shirt though that bugs her a lot from the inside, even though I don't feel anything unusual about it inside. I got her some tank undershirts to wear under it so she won't feel it anymore. You may wish to try something like that for things that bother her inside the shirt. Also, my daughter won't wear jeans because she is bothered by the waistband, so she always wears stretchy pants instead because the waistband is softer.

I hope something from this might be helpful to you! Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter refused to wear jeans (and from time to time other things too...no buttons, collars, tights etc...) for 3 years, from 18 months on to 5. It was SO frustrating and I fought her and fought her. It wasn't utill I gave up and bought only spandex boring BORING outfits did she stop fighting all the cute things. So, having gone through it, I think to a little control craving child it is just one of the only things they can control. And I am not about letting my kids do what they want just to make them feel "in control" but I felt it was one thing I could let her do. And she is 6 now and will wear anything. It is so nice. Just don't fight it, she will move on and pick something else to fuss about! ;o) Good Luck! J.

More Answers

We were just talking about that in my biology class the other day. Young children's nervous systems lack the ability to "turn off" sensory overload. As adults, our bodies forget to listen to things like our clothes after awhile but children can get overstimulated by sensations like tags or waist bands. My teacher dsays they eventually grow out of it. My cousin cut all the tags out of her son's clothes and eventually new ones stopped bothering him. My teacher mention 8 being the age when the body overcomes that issue. hopefully it will be sooner.

2 moms found this helpful

She might be allergic to something, wheat, milk or other food she eats daily. It would make her skin highly sensitive and make it itch on contact with anything even slightly rubbing or touching skin. I started having that problem and it turned out that I don't tolerate wheat. Have you talked to her doctor? It must be hard on her and you but remember that this is HAPPENING TO HER - she is not DOING IT TO YOU. Even if this was a phase
it would signal that something is going on that needs attention.

Hope it will sort itself out.

2 moms found this helpful

Let her wear the 4% of clothing, she'll eventually grow out of it and if not, look at the bright side, less spending on your part.

1 mom found this helpful

I had the same problem with my son too but it started before 5 years old. It ended up being a sensory issue with him though. The clothes that my son prefers are the softer feeling fabrics, no tags at the back neck and things like that. Maybe also check your detergents too. Have you changed them lately???? I still use the free and clear for my son because he also has the eczema but any other kind of soaps seem to cause problems to without it actually being the clothes. Just an idea so that you know you are not the only one that is going through this.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,

Your child is most definitely not alone in her behavior. My oldest daughter, now 14, hated clothes from the day she was born. She didn't like the way they felt and much preferred to be naked. I remember my sadness at the loss of her innocence when she came out into the front yard at 5 years old wearing nothing at all, and I realized that her days of naked toddlerness were over. It was hard to explain to her why she couldn't freely move around the world without clothes on. Then when she finally had to wear clothes it was only the clothes SHE wanted to wear - and she struggled with that because everything was so uncomfortable for her. Let me tell you, I have neighbor/friends who still remember some of Beth's crazy ensembles! At first it was a battle, and it got ugly sometimes. My only priority was that she was warm/cool enough. I didn't really care what she looked like because I thought it was more important to let her exercise some control over something in her life. What's the big deal anyway? But even that was challenging.
All I can tell you is that she moved out of that phase, although she's still very independent about what she wears. She's a wonderful young woman with a great sense of fashion.
Hang in there. Mothering is quite an adventure to be sure!
Best, T.

1 mom found this helpful

I'd also check for allergies and check with your Ped to see if there are any medical reasons for the sensitivity. Also have you changed any laundry detergents/fabric softeners lately? One time when we tried out a store-brand detergent that was supposedly dye-free and fragrance-free we all felt our clothes were itchier until we switched detergents back to what we were using before (All Free and Clear)

Does your daughter have any other sensitivity issues (noises, etc.)?

1 mom found this helpful

I saw a show on tv where something similiar was happening. It was suggested that the mom let the girl wear her pj's to school and not argue about getting dressed. Well, the little girl was cold, couldn't play with the other kids, the other kids laughed at her.....from that day on she wore what was left out for her to wear and no arguements.

You might want to put two outfits out for her to choose from - to give her some say in what she wears, but really, the choice is all yours.

Maybe the next time you go shopping for clothes, pick out some items that are acceptable to you and let her choose from your choices which ones will be coming home in the shopping bag.

1 mom found this helpful

Unfortunately, I'm not a lot of help, but I do empathize. You are not alone. My almost 8 yr old girl has been increasingly bugged by tags in shirts. It's driving me crazy to always hear "it's itchy!" I've been cutting out a lot of tags lately! Fortunately, that seems to solve the problem with that. She has another shirt though that bugs her a lot from the inside, even though I don't feel anything unusual about it inside. I got her some tank undershirts to wear under it so she won't feel it anymore. You may wish to try something like that for things that bother her inside the shirt. Also, my daughter won't wear jeans because she is bothered by the waistband, so she always wears stretchy pants instead because the waistband is softer.

I hope something from this might be helpful to you! Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe have her checked out by your pediatrician - itchy skin could be the sign of allergies or who knows what else. I was allergic to fabric softener as a kid, it was awful.

Once you've ruled allergies out, tell her to dress herself using whatever clothes she has in her closet, and she has x number of minutes until you leave the house. I will seriously leave the house with my daughter in pajamas if she balks at getting dressed (and then I make sure to run LOTS of errands so people can stare and comment, and she can feel embarrassed that she didn't just get dressed when I told her to). I'm such a mean mommy! But on the bright side I don't have to fight with her about clothes much anymore. (My daughter, who is also 5, likes to complain that everything is "too small" for her, or otherwise that the colors are "all wrong"... I swear...)

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter is also doing this but it started at age 3/4. She is now 5.5 and it is better but we've also figured out what she can wear. I have done some reading and come to the conslusion that she has a very mild case of Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Her brain is actually telling her to have a fight or flight reaction to certain textures and touches. I definitely recommend reading the book The Out-Of-Sync Child and see if this fits your daughter. It may very well be beyond her control and something she can't help. In that case you will have to be patient and work with her. For my daughter it's pretty much Target leggings only (no underwear), very specific about socks and cotton tees. Around the house, she'll change back into her footie pajamas any chance she gets. It's a pain but there could be worse things. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

We went thru that for a while. Fortunately she just gradually grew out of it. I found it helped when i let her either choose her own clothes or choose btwn 2 different outfits. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter refused to wear jeans (and from time to time other things too...no buttons, collars, tights etc...) for 3 years, from 18 months on to 5. It was SO frustrating and I fought her and fought her. It wasn't utill I gave up and bought only spandex boring BORING outfits did she stop fighting all the cute things. So, having gone through it, I think to a little control craving child it is just one of the only things they can control. And I am not about letting my kids do what they want just to make them feel "in control" but I felt it was one thing I could let her do. And she is 6 now and will wear anything. It is so nice. Just don't fight it, she will move on and pick something else to fuss about! ;o) Good Luck! J.

Both my kids do the same thing!! My son started when he was about 5 and my three year old just started. She is the worst. She will not wear ANYTHING. Including the new clothes I took her to pick out. It is so frustrating. I like to buy her clothes at boutiques and the money I watch go don the drain drives me up the wall.
The only thing I have noticed that helps is to tell her things like "only big girls can wear clothes like this". Also, if I don't fight it or make a big deal about it sometimes she will let it go.
My son is a different story. He decides to change his "look" every few months. I now will buy him a few new things every season. If he wants more he needs to save his money to buy it himself.

I may not have offered much help but wanted to let you know you are not alone!

My daughter was the same way, and I've heard from other mom's that our kids aren't the only ones. I know it's frustrating. My daughter is 7 and still goes through phases of what she won't and will wear. I think part of it is being skin sensitive and part of it is testing their own independence. It's rough and I feel for you. I still go through it, but at least it changes. From only dresses and skirts, to only soft pants, to only jeans. Now she has trouble with socks and socks are a nightmare in the morning before school. I don't have a solution, but just know you aren't the only one.

Hi J.:
My son, as many autistic children, have these type of sensitivities to fabrics, tags, zippers, etc in clothing (among many other sensitivities). My son has sensoty integration dysfunction. My son does not tolerate clothing tags, so I try to buy t-shirts which have the info printed on the shirt, instead of fabric tags. I always buy pants with no zippers, socks that are not too tight, etc. etc. He also has aversion for most foods because of his oral defensiveness.
Some kids are bothered by certain fabric texture, color or smell.
Be aware that the fabric most contaminated with pesticides is cotton (unless you buy organic cotton). Synthetic fabric like polyester sometime causes rash in some children. PJ's with flame-retardant coating (antimony - which poisons their little bodies) are also something to worry about.
Try to see what is that she tolerates and buy a bunch of the same item, that way she can be confortable.
You can also find information about activites for sensory dysfunction, like stimulating her skin by brushing it with a dry brush, let her play with different textures (sand, dirt, playdough, a bunch of different fuzzy items, etc.). There is a lot of info on line, just type: activities for sensory integration; this helps and improves their sensitivities.
Good luck.

My friend had a son just like this and when he was 10, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrone, a mild form of autism. This was the cause of his sensitivity to clothing that scratched or was uncomfortable. You may want to check your daughter to see if it is not just a phase.
Good luck!
A.

hi J.,

i was like that when i was little. i think it was a combination of the foods, fabrics and environments around me that, looking back, were all too heavy energetically. my body was rejecting the heavy emotion around me and the dense foods, meats and dairy that were way too much for me, and maybe some polyester, i am not sure. my body and many of the children today's bodies are very high vibration and sensitive beyond that of what most people can understand. Most of these kids prefer light meals of vegetables and grains, like quinoa which is very light and good protein too. Perhaps you have tried only cotton or silk, but more than that, look at the home, after-school and school situations emotionally and see if you can either lighten the emotional load for her or help her by talking more about how she feels about the people and situations around her to help her digest whatever she has taken on. People who are emotional healers come in like that and often take in all the emotion around them to process in their little bodies. it also helps kids like that to have some time when they get home for some free expression, like painting or exercise or time alone in the yard.

blessings and i hope this helps!

A. m

I know how you feel. She sounds exactly like my daughter, who is 4 1/2 years old. Her sensitivity to clothes started about 1 year ago and I'm still dealing with it. I'm hoping it's a phase because it gets really annoying. What I don't get is how my daughter can wear shoes today, but tomorrow, it will be too tight. And then she'll have no problems putting them on the day after. I've had to cut tags on some of her shirts because it was making the back of her neck itchy even though she has worn them numerous times with the tags on. I have to turn her socks inside out because she can't stand to feel the seam on her toes. And with pants, it's a hit or miss. I put away pants that she says are too tight (even though they aren't) so now she has "loose" pants that can be tightened with a belt. My daughter doesn't mind using a belt so maybe you can use one on your daughter. However, even with a belt she gets easily frustrated when she feels that her pants are starting to droop. She is constantly pulling up her pants. And then there are days when she still complains even after all the "fixes" so I just make her grin and bear it. After whining for a few minutes, she usually gets over it quickly. Just wanted to tell you that I know how you feel. I'm hoping it's a phase too . . .

Dear J.,
For one thing, I think it could be just a phase. Lord knows, my daughter, who will be 22 in October had her little weirdness about her clothes and shoes when she was quite young. She insisted on wearing her shoes on the wrong feet and her clothes and pants backwards, especially if there were pockets or bows. She insisted they looked prettier that way. Drove me absolutely nuts. But unless we were going to church or a nice restaurant, I let her do it. I didn't fight about it. People would say to her, "My, that is an interesting way of wearing your dress and your shoes", and she would say, "Thank you. I dressed myself."
She also went through a thing where she could not stand a tag in anything. I bought her beautiful nightgowns and mathching robes and she refused to wear them because she couldn't stand they way they felt on her skin. She couldn't stand certain socks or tights or sweaters or shirts or nightgowns. She had closets full of clothes that I donated to homeless shelters because she could not stand the way they felt on her skin. I've been there. Done that. The good news is, she grew out of it. But, you might want to have your daughter checked for sensory issues. It's a sensory thing. Maybe clothes, maybe food, maybe noise. It's about them being hyper-sensitive to something and it's not something they can even understand themselves. Some kids that are very gifted experience it. Some kids that have ADD or Autism experience it. Do some research on sensory issues and talk to the pediatrician. Like I said, my daughter was evaluated and there were no allergies or anything she was just hyper-sensitive. Not hyper-active, no eating or learning problems and she turned out just fine. My little boy is 12 and he was so easy to potty train because he could never stand to be wet. He can't stand it to this day. He is a little fish and will swim in a pool or the river for hours, but when he gets out, he wants dry clothes on. Even if it's 100 degrees out and he could be dry in minutes, he cannot stand being in wet clothes. That's just his thing. Makes more laundry for me, but doesn't really hurt anything. He doesn't cry or throw fits, he just wants his wet stuff off right away. I'm sure your daughter will be fine, but since it is a new behavior, it won't hurt to ask about it.

Best of luck to you!

Hi J.,
Your ad made me smile! I have been through this! Your daughter has a symptom of being over textile sensitive, I suggest going to a Homeopathic Dr. to get a remedy, or an Ayurvedic Practioner,this is a symptom, of an imbalance.
This symptom is one that also effects you, but she probably has more you do not notice. I took my son in and found out much more and helped get him balanced. My sister had the same with her son around 7 and took him in to a Homeopathic Dr. and told him either give him a remedy for him and his fussiness or me one, to handle it. It will get better and these things will help. S. S

My daughter has Aspergers and the clothing sensitivity began as early as 2 years old. By 7 years old, she hated baths saying "the water is too itchy." Her Aspergers doctor agreed, saying that "to these children, it REALLY is itchy". Since yore child is 5, it may be a phase or getting your attention. Are there any other symptoms or behavior problems besides this?

Hi J.. I can totally relate to your issue. I have an eleven year old daughter who has always (at least it seems like forever, but it's really probably only been since she was four or five) been very picky about her clothes. In the beginning it was that everything was too tight, itchy, uncomfortable. Then as she grew and she started to create her own style, it was too girly or frilly. At this point we do all of our shopping in the little boy's department and she knows exactly what works for her. Over the years I have come to realize that her reason for doing this is that girl's clothes ARE often uncomfortable. They're tight and binding. It's sad to me that even little girls are put into a position of having to sacrafice comfort for beauty, you know what I mean? Maybe I've come to this conclusion because of my personal biases, but I just want to put off the whole 'pretty' thing for as long as possible. Anyway, our solution has been to do a few things:
-make sure she has plenty of clothes that are loose and at least minimally comfortable (can you say sweats??)
-she gets up a half-hour earlier so that she can take as long as she wants and it doesn't affect our getting out of the house on time
-if she feels like she needs to gripe or complain about the issue, she needs to take some time to herself and figure it out because I've done EVERYTHING I can possibly do to support her in having access to the clothes that she chooses and the time to choose...
..and that's it. I make sure to buy her new clothes as soon as she needs them and leave the rest to her. It has become easier over the years, but it is still often an issue. I know at this point that this is a real issue for her and I think that by letting her figure out a good solution, I'm arming her to be a good problem solver in the future. It sounds like you're on the right track. Just don't dispair...getting dressed is such a small part of our lives together. I'm sure that your daughter is otherwise a wonderful kid and this is only one small part of your life together.

-C.

You'll need the book "raising your spirited child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, it will help a lot. My daughter, finally, at 10 is starting to care about her clothes and will wear jeans again, but only if they're big enough that they pull on & off w/o undoing the buttons. Apparently, they really do feel things differently than we do and little things like the seam in a sock can drive them nuts.

I never quite figured out why children go through the "I hate the way my clothes feel" stage, but they do. Both of mine (now grown) went though exactly the same issue, right around the same age as yours is. I wish I had a great answer, but I don't. The best advice I can offer is...count to 10 and remain patient while recognizing that for SOME reason, the clothing really IS bothering your daughter. Perhaps something in their young brains is developing around the age of five...something that causes them to "feel" sensations on their skin more than they did before???

I remember what I did with my daughter...she had ONE shirt that she was in love with and that is ALL she would wear for about 2 months. At first, I tried to struggle with her, but my mom persuaded me to let it go - to allow my daughter to wear "her shirt", even if "her shirt" wasn't necessarily the most appropriate piece of clothing for every situation. I forced myself not to get wrapped up in my own embarrassment about my child wearing the same (bright lime green)shirt everywhere, and allowed her to just wear it.

Well, we all survived the situation and eventually even SHE became tired of the shirt. Then the "stage" seemed to pass. She is now a 22 year old university student studying business and....fashion design. lol Wanna bet she designs an entire line of lime-green clothes??? ; )

Hang in there. I know it's a VERY challenging stage, but be patient and it'll pass.

She could be developing skin allergies and have hyper sensitive skin. Try rinsing her clothes twice when you wash them. Also, try different detergents. Wisk and All work for me.Make sure her underwear elastic is covered and that there are no tags in her clothes. Also, I recommend taking her to a dermatologist to see if you can get relief for her. Good luck. I know this is frustrating. My son and I have very sensitive skin and I have dealt with this all my life. Oatmeal baths help too. Jeans used to really bother my son until he was about 12 years old.

Hi J.,

My son did the same thing at that age. I finally figured out that he is just really sensitive to clothes. He is 15 now and only wears cotton and the clothes have to fit loosely. I cut off all of the tags on his clothes as they seem to bother him too.

Over the years I have gotten used to his need for comfortable clothes. It's just the way he is!

My oldest son is 10 and has Asperger's Syndrome. When I first read your post I thought to myself; this sounds like some of the sensory issues my son struggled with when he was younger.

Does she have any other sensitivities such as bright lights bothering her, or only eating foods of a certain texture, that you have noticed? Does she have any behavioral issues? How does she feel about other people brushing up against her or hugging her? If any of these are problems for her I suggest "The Sensory Sensitive Child" by Karen A. Smith,Ph.D and Karen R. Gouze, Ph.D. This book was really helpful to me.

Hopefully, I am just jumping the gun here. This may also just be a phase, especially if she doesn't appear to have any of the other things I've mentioned bothering her. I'm also not saying your child is autistic. I do know children who simply have sensory integration disorder and are not autistic.

Take care,
J.

Well I have an almost 5 year old son, who is going through a similar stage with clothing. It's not that he complains of discomfort but that he doesn't like anything he has. He doesn't like the color. He pretty much refuses to wear jeans of any kind and only wants to wear sweats. I myself have been wondering why all of a sudden he cares so much about the color and style. Hopefully it is just a phase and we things will go back to normal!

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.