My Son Will Not Stop Changing Clothes! What to Do???

Updated on February 11, 2007
T.S. asks from Louisville, KY
13 answers

My 3 year old is always into his drawers pulling out clothes and making a huge mess. He wants to change clothes 50 times a day! This is driving the whole family crazy. I have tried everything from taking all the clothes out and putting them in my room to taping his drawers shut. He always find them and still does the same thing. What do I do? Has anyone else ever had this problem? We thought is was cute at first but now it is very annoying and lets face it some of the clothes make their way to the laundry when they are not dirty....which doesn't make me very happy. :-)

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks so much for all your advice. I have taken some time with this one and have come to a good solid resolution. I stood my gound and told him no everytime he took clothing out and put him into timeout. He has since become more reluctant to try and change clothes. He seems less interested now and I have given him some costumes to use when he plays and he is wearing them and changing into them after preschool instead of changing clothes and making a huge mess. Just being consistent and patient seems to make him realize now mommy means business! Thanks again and Thank God he is changing his ways and NOT his clothes. :-)

Featured Answers



answers from Fort Wayne on

My daughter will be 3 in May and she does the SAME thing!! She will get up in her closet and tear the clothes out and she gets into her drawers and pulls ALL her clothes out. I am wondering what to do also because my husband and I have tried just about everything and its driving us crazy too. Because im tired of putting clothes away everyday that she thinks is just funny to tear out.

More Answers



answers from Muncie on

I have four children which I stay at home with, and I too have a 3 year old who does this. Fortunately, I have a five year old who did it, and a nine year old who did it. It's just a phase, a new skill. In the meantime, try to set some boundaries and be consistent. It might take a lot of time at first, but it will get better. It does help to get them a few dress up items. I got my 3 year old son, Avery an after halloween superman and batman costume, and I also gave him an old snap up scrub shirt of mine to play doctor with. If you give them a few things in a specific area that they can play dress myself with it helps. I also make a deal about getting dressed in the morning and help him by letting him choose what to wear today and talking to him about it. I do the same at bedtime so that he feels the satisfaction of being a 'big kid' but also has the boundaries. Just keep the talking simple. Something like "I know you are a big boy and can get dressed all by yourself, but no more changing clothes until bedtime." Try it out, but know that kids are eager to prove their skills, and they will get bored with it. I also agree that making him help fold and put it away can discourage this behavior.



answers from Jacksonville on

My three year old is doing the exact same thing. If you find a way to stop that, please let me know. I am sick of washing clothes that are not dirty. Even if I try to put them back in her drawer she will take them out and they end up in the hamper. I know what you are going through, it makes me want to pull out my hair. let me know what you figure out.



answers from Lexington on

i agree with julie. you can win this. it may get ugly at first with what you will need to take away and how he'll react. i would take those clothes away and put them somewhere in the house where he can't reach them. put locks on the closet if needed. put the child safety hindges on the drawers so he can't get to them. does the door to his room need to be locked so he can't get in until he stops doing this with the clothes? you could put one of those temporary locks up high where he could reach even if standing on a chair. maybe he could earn back the privilidge of going in his room whenever he feels like it. i wonder if dress up clothes would be confusing. it is a creative idea but on one hand your letting him dress up as many times as he wants and then your telling him not to do the same thing with the other clothes. you need to explain to him how much extra work he making for you. explain it to him so he can understand. have him help you do the laundry one day to truly experience. he'll get very tired of that! he could put laundry in the dryer you hand him. or sort the clean clothes into piles to be folded (shirt, pants, socks, etc...) or he could match socks possibly. and get the whole family on board. no one needs to be laughing at him anymore about this.

good luck and please keep us posted. you should feel confident in your parenting. your seeking answers for a problem your having trouble handling on your own. we're here for you!



answers from Kokomo on

If your 14 year old likes to change her clothes a lot, he could just be doing what he sees her doing. You need to get a lock on his closet and lock all his clothes up in their and only issue him one outfit at a time. Calmly explain to him the money it takes to wash them, and why he isn't supposed to dirty up all of his clothes in one day. Get him some other clothes that he can use to play in if he still has the urge to keep changing them, because after all, it could be his way of exploring things and playing make-believe.



answers from Wheeling on

you just described every day with my 3 year old. we ended up putting the child safety catches(locks) on the dresser drawers and it seems to be working for now....although now she gets into her older sisters clothes (something im sure she wont outgrow til way past her teen years.) good luck.....hopefully for all us moms with 3 year olds...this phase wont last too long!!



answers from Fort Wayne on

How about getting a dress up area. A box with all types of clothes that he can put on over his clothes - and take them off. It's what most people call a "pretend center". Maybe this will keep him out of his actual clothes and he can mix and match these play clothes many times before they need laundered.

Good luck..



answers from Lexington on

Be lucky he's changing clothes, unlike my son who is 5 and comes in and strips down to his underwear! My 12 yr old daughter went through that phase and is still in that phase, your son will not understand the concept of how much money or time it takes, you guys thought it was funny at first or cute at first so now he thinks it is okay to do it when he wants. When my daughter was 3 i gave her a box of clothes she could play with and when they found their way to the laundry and i knew they weren't dirty i would just put them in her box. Her "good" clothes she was not allowed to play with and when she was getting into her good clothes i made her fold them over and over and over then eventually it got boring to her and she got tired of hearing her dad and i say go put back on the clothes that mommy put you in earlier. Now at 12 she does her own laundry and that has cut down on her changing clothes so much. I understand you cannot make your 3 yr old do laundry although that would be awesome if they could. I agree with Julie as well..... there is a lot of great advice here so I hope that there is one that helps you. Please let us know what you did and if it works. Have a great day.



answers from Lafayette on

He does it because he can...he knows how. It's a cool skill that he didn't have before. He's reaching new levels in his independance and he wants to exercise this new found independance. He will eventually grow out of it, or you can speed things along. When he has to clean it all may be cool at first doing cleaning, but when he's made to all the time, he'll get bored with it. Make him fold all of those clothes (and for good measure...make him refold them all a few times as you know he's not going to do it right at his age)and have him put them all away. He'll learn really fast. That's what it took to nip it in the bud with my now 4 year old.



answers from Indianapolis on

I kind of have to agree with Julie. However, a thought popped into my head.... you said you thought it was funny at first. Did you guys make a big deal of it, you know, laughing and stuff? B/c now he probably thinks that is something that makes you happy or something that is funny so he does it thinking it's acceptable to you. I don't have any great ideas for you except maybe develop a routine where he picks an outfit out the night before and all the other clothes get put away (hide them if you have to).



answers from Fort Wayne on

Remember, not to sound harsh, but kids only do what they're allowed to do. When I talk to my friends and they say "he's doing this....and won't stop!" Or "I can't go anywhere because he won't behave!" I think to myself, "when did their roles reverse? When did the kid become the one in charge???"

My daughter LOVES playing dressup, and also went through a phase of wanting to change clothes a few times a day. After a couple of days, I took her into her room and said "mommy works really hard keeping your clothes clean and hanging up nice. From now on, you ask me first if you'd like to get any clothes out. If I say it's okay, it will no longer be you who gets them out, I will get them out for you". That was the end of that problem. You should be able to sit and talk to your kid (mine was also 3 at the time) and tell them the rules, and although kids are going to test their boundaries, the rules should be the way things are....all the time. If my daughter goes back and gets clothes out without permission, then she has privileges taken away, or a time out.

Take control of your child again. If he is doing something you don't want him to be doing, tell him no!! And if he does it again, enforce the consequence of disobeying. That's the only way you'll get him to stop.



answers from Evansville on

This is a tough subject and so many people have problems with this. I am currently taking a course to where I will be able to help parents, daycares, and etc with discipline problems and ideas to help maintain structure.

Locking things is not teaching them anything EXCEPT that if they do something you don't like you will put it out of their way.

The following things are very important for any body dealing with children to do with children
2. GET ON THE CHILD'S LEVEL -Do not bring the child to your level you go to them
3. Tell the child that this is their one warning if they do it again place them in time out. Same place each time do not move this around. Remember CONSISTANCY
4.Make the child aware of the hurt that their action caused
5. If the child does it again then stick to your guns and place the child in timeout 1 minute per age. IF THEY GET OUT IT STARTS OVER. They can cry, kick scream whatever as long as they are in their spot CONSISTANCY
6. when the time is up then talk to the child and again show them the damage he or she may have caused and have them say I'm sorry.



answers from Indianapolis on

I remember the phase well!! I put a lock (latching kind) on the top outside of the door, so my daughter could not go in her room as she pleases. Watch out for things that they will start to climb on to get up high to attempt to unlock it themselves...

Good luck.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches