Is It Normal for a 4 Year Old Not to Wear Underwear?

Updated on January 25, 2011
C.F. asks from Whittier, CA
24 answers

I run a home daycare and one of the boys I care for has not worn underwear for over a year, since he has been pottytrained. This drives me crazy, since he is with me 9 hours a day and I have to deal with it. To me, this is so strange. Both my kids wear underwear and have since they were out of diapers. I am afraid to mention it to the Mom, but am sure that she is well aware of it and ok with it. In 9 years of doing home childcare, this is the first child I've cared for that doesn't wear underwear. I know that he gets dressed by himself in the morning, but that his mom doesn't check to see if he has underwear on. IIs this normal? Is this something that I should discuss with his parents and make a rule? Help please!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the advice, good or bad. Honestly I think it is a matter of hygiene. I appreciate those of you who said they have no problem with a child not wearing underwear, but I have to disagree 100%. We, as parents need to teach our children hygiene. This 4 year old still does not wipe properly and every week we have an incident where I am scrubbing poop off of the inside of his pants, because the other kids and I can smell something. I know wiping and underwear are different subjects, but they go hand in hand here at my childcare. haha. I finally mentioned it to the Mom today at pick up,when I handed her another pair of soiled pants, I said, "did you know he wasn't wearing underwear today?" and she said "yes. he doesn't like to" and giggled. That was as far as I'll go as a professional. I've merely been dealing with this for over a year and was expecting him to start wearing underwear as he got older... but now I know that this Mom is not bothered or embarrassed by this in any way. I am looking forward to his descent into Kindergarten next year so that I will not have to scrub up messes and burn scented candles in my home anymore. To each his own, I guess.

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answers from Phoenix on

I really don't see why it matters as long as he's got clean clothes to wear and is otherwise well cared for. I had a little girl go through a commando phase and it didn't bother me if it didn't bother her. If you feel you must say something I would make it a light remark about him going commando. Maybe Mom doesn't notice or maybe she just doesn't think it's a big deal. Be prepared for her not to take it well, however, and feel like you're criticizing her parenting.

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5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I really do not see why it is an issue? Is his not wearing undies causing some kind of an issue? If he likes to go commando, what is the harm?

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answers from Cleveland on

Eh, my 4 yo DD has a tendency to not put on underwear when she gets herself dressed. She either forgets or just doesn't feel like they are comfortable. The only time I really push the issue is when she is wearing a dress or skirt because I do not want her to flash her privates to others. Is the lack of underwear actually causing a problem for you or are just bothered by the lack of underwear in general?

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answers from Portland on

I had to chuckle. I have a preschool and see all sorts of clothes come in and out of my school.

Here's my question to you, teacher to teacher: can you let it go? Is it worth the conversation with the parent? Some kids really don't like various clothing items: socks is a great example. What if the mom does know, and just doesn't care?

I have to tell you, honestly, that if my son was dead-set on not wearing underpants, I'd really be okay with it. Personally, if it were me, unless there was a total hygiene issue (coming to school in the same pants with racing stripes), this is a conversation I would avoid having. I am really very careful about making things "rules" with parents unless it's absolutely unavoidable or a hard line I need to take. Right now, in my group, my 'rules' for parents are that no sweets come to school in lunchboxes and that all the children are appropriately dressed for outdoor play for this current weather. I believe in letting my families allow their children to otherwise let them dress themselves. When we challenge a parent's usual practices with our own rules, we do often run the risk of offending. So, unless you are seeing significant red flags (child is dirty, hair never brushed, etc.), this is an area I'd encourage you to let go of. Eventually, the child will become more aware that all their peers wear underpants...or they will graduate to middle school/junior high, where there are requirements for dress.

Try to stay zen with this one. Over the years, I've had my challenges too! We bend, but we won't break, ha ha. The trick with all of childcare is to stay as flexible as possible. (and you can always just ask the child "Oh, I noticed that you don't usually wear underwear to school. Tell me about that." Do it when you have a moment alone with him, and see what he says. He might just hate underwear!:) )


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answers from New York on

I'm so afraid he'll have a zipper accident!!
I'd make a joke of it to the Mom,

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answers from Phoenix on

My son never wore underwear. My sister called it 'freeballing it.' Then we all started calling it the same...around 2nd grade he started wearing boxers. But we lived in a much warmer climate back then so I assumed he wanted it that way for some natural air conditioning.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't get why it should be a problem for you. He is wearing pants right?

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answers from Charlotte on

It's going to painful for him when he starts trying to wear blue jeans. Little kids are very active and he'll hurt himself. Perhaps you would be doing his mother a favor by telling her that. For sure, when he's old enough to be in PE, he'll be made fun of by the other boys if he's not wearing underwear.


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answers from Dallas on

My son has never worn underwear and he is just starting to at age 8. He would never put them on when I put them out and I didn't make an issue of it. You probably shouldn't either. It really isn't a problem just a difference. It did drive me nuts for a while but I got used to it.

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answers from Jacksonville on

If it bothers you enough to potentially lose the child as a "client" then you could make it a rule. Or even if you don't want it to be a rule, you could carefully inquire of the mom if she is aware that he isn't wearing them routinely... At our house.. I cannot imagine my kids not wearing them. It just has always been that way from day one, and neither of our two has ever balked at the idea.
I read some of the previous responses, and was a little surprised by how many parents have no problems with their little kids not wearing undies. Truly. Especially with the styles of clothes that are popular these days. Have you SEEN how low cut some of the 'waist' lines are on the girls clothing the past decade?!

There was a young girl at church that, I was startled to find out didn't wear them. At first I assumed it was a situation where she dressed herself that day in a rush and just forgot or didn't bother, or had maybe had an accident in the bathroom and mom removed them and didn't have a spare. But as I came to find out - by regular visuals during the service everytime the child leaned over to the floor for something, in the pew right in front of us, which was frequently... that it was apparently a regular thing with her. I couldn't HELP but be freakishly aware every time. My own kids were sitting there seeing the little girls BUTT being exposed. And the mom was oblivious or just didn't care.

If it makes you uncomfortable, then I would ask the mom about it. To each his own, but it is YOUR house and daycare.

I, personally, find it a matter of hygiene. Not to mention that undies are more form fitting and don't gap and sag like pants do. Other people not only don't NEED to see, but don't WANT to see certain things. Butt cracks come to mind. I know that sounds crass, but seeing it is worse.

When he is 11 and in middle school dressing out for PE, is he still going to be going bare? I hope not. Those boys locker rooms can be tough.. or so I've heard. My son is 12 and he switched from the occasional pair of "more grown up" undies and usual tighty whities to ONLY the more manly boxer briefs his first week of 6th grade.

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answers from San Francisco on

You run the daycare -- tell mom it's a new rule. Don't be afraid, it's your home, and your daycare. It's not sanitary for people not to wear underwear -- especially little kids.

I don't think it's anything "abnormal," however.

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answers from Sherman on

My son is 6 and doesn't wear undies either...unless he's wrestling. My husband doesn't either, so I guess like father like son.

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answers from Kansas City on

lol....wierd kid! just kidding. actually it's funny that you run a daycare, because my daycare provider had a son who did this. and then he wouldn't wear anything with a zipper because it was uncomfortable. so he literally lived in stretchy elastic waisted pants and shorts.

i don't know how "normal" it is, but i don't think it's that big of a deal. you say he is pottytrained, but then you say you have to "deal" with it. do you really have to do that much? i kinda feel like it's one of those, to each their own, things. not the way "I'D" go personally but...

but then i am not taking care of the kiddo for 9 hours a day either!

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answers from Erie on

Honestly, my DD is 4 1/2 and she doesnt wear underwear. Unless she is in the rare mood to wear a skirt or dress, she wont wear underwear. She cant stand the way they feel...and has been that way since around age 3. She is the same way with socks. She is very sensitive to the way certain clothing items feel on her body. Not wearing underwear isnt an issue for us. I really dont see why it would be? She is clean and has clean clothes on each day. Do I wish she would wear socks and underwear?? Yes lol...but it is a battle that I have tried to fight, and finally decided it wasnt worth all the stress.

Maybe that little boy has some of the same issues? Anyway, I wouldnt worry about it if his mom isnt worried about it. Unless he is not wearing clean clothes or is showing his private parts or something. If thats the case, then I would gently mention something.

Just my 2 cents :)

Edited: Just read your "So What Happened?" and I felt a little confused. The LO is 4 yrs old...being his childcare provider, shouldnt you be making sure that he wipes properly after he goes to the bathroom?? I know that I still have to help my DD when she does...just for the reason you stated..I dont want her missing anything that would be unsanitary...or could cause her to get an infection. My DD doesnt wear underwear and I have NEVER had a problem with her soiling her pants. I make sure she is clean after a she has a I would do for ANY child that was in MY care. And what would be the difference between him soiling his pants vs him soiling his underwear? It would still smell and need to be changed. So, it sounds like the issue should be about the fact that he cant wipe himself properly yet, not about the fact that he doesnt wear underwear. But, I guess I may not be understanding the whole situation.


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answers from Modesto on

My ex DIL did not and still does not make the kids wear underwear, they have a "nudist" mentality. They just say "no" to underwear. It's rare, and that's why it's shocking to you. I wouldnt say a word, she's probably waiting for you to. Just act like it's normal BECAUSE it is normal to a small population of people.

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answers from Topeka on

Maybe she doesn't wear them either & it doesn't bother them at all to go without I don't see why it causes you so much distress,afterall it has been over a year since you cared for him why bring it up now?I have all 3 kids wear their undies my son doesn't like to for sleep but he does put them on after I remind him to do so he never goes without during the day nor forgets during the day just at night time.He could have a sensory issue & having them off him his day goes alot better than with them on.My 4 year old will forget to put them on if there not out even if they are out she gfets in the habit of tossing all her clothes around while getting dreesed then she forgets to change them or put them on but once reminded they will do it.
Have you asked the boy where are your underwears?Ask him see what he tell's you

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answers from Raleigh on

I wouldn't be surprised if his dad goes "commando" also. Maybe it's just the way it goes at their house. I wouldn't make too much of a big deal about it, unless he's getting skid marks in his pants that gives off an odor.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I don't know why on earth you wouldn't have inquired to his mom earlier.. you should be open with all of your clients. I agree that it isn't a BIG deal, but it may not be okay in public school? Really, the boy should learn that it is more comfortable to have cotton underwear, but everyone has different views.
Perhaps he doesn't because his parents don't? "the commando family!"
Oh well!



answers from Portland on

If it really makes you uncomfortable, as the person caring for him I feel you have a right to inquire, but carefully. My question would be whether it is causing any issues? If he is clean and not exposing himself I wouldn't really worry about it. It might be a phase that mom has chosen not to battle over.
You could just ask him? Not in a wierd way but just "hey how come you don't wear underwear?" He might give you a short easy answer and that be the end of it.



answers from Los Angeles on

I would make it a rule once the family is gone if it bothers you-I agree with you-yuck!



answers from Honolulu on

So he 'may' get dressed in the morning... and he can't put a diaper on himself, unless it is a pull-up? But you said he is wearing a "diaper."
Not pull-up.
Or is he just naked on the bottom?

IS he completely potty trained, yet???
If not, maybe that is why the Mom has him in 'diapers?' Not underwear?

He has not worn one for over a year... so previously he was, in underwear?

Does the Mom say why, he is in diapers at daycare????

So when you change his diaper, is he soiled???
Does he have medical issues, so he is thus in a 'diaper?'

Or is he just NOT wearing anything? No diaper nor underwear????
I was not clear by your post....

I would just ASK the Mom... why the boy does not have/wear underwear?

Can they afford underwear???
This is odd....

Or does the boy... have issues... with wearing underwear?



answers from Augusta on

He may be dressing himself in the AM and just not putting i9t on ,l'd ask the mom about it.



answers from Salt Lake City on

This seems completely unsanitary to me and a great way to spread germs. I believe for the sake of other kids you need to make some kind of rule abou this. Good-luck.



answers from Pueblo on

I had a hard time getting my daughter to wear them around age 8-9 for almost a year it was a battle she just hated them. I myself am allergic to the elastic in many brands of undies. So it could be normal for him not to wear any. I would just ask the mom. I wouldnt do it in a judging manner just out of curiosity.

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