PLEASE HELP Get 3 1/2 Year Old Girl Dressed!

Updated on October 28, 2006
J.D. asks from Owens Cross Roads, AL
8 answers

Hi- It is like pulling teeth to get my daughter (who will be 4 in December)dressed in the mornings. This all started with her saying that her shoes weren't comfortable. Over the summer, she pretty much wore one pair of sandals and that's it. So, when school started, we went shoe shopping and we have a closet full of shoes that are "just not comfortable". She now wears one pair of Dora tennis shoes and occasionally I can get another pair of dressier shoes on her. Well, now this "comfortable" idea is showing up with her clothes. She's already tough to buy for because she's tall and skinny, so when I FINALLY find pants that have elastic all the way around and get them home and washed, I just about lose it when she says it's not "comfortable". My husband and I are consistent and we've even threatened to keep her home from preschool if she didn't get dressed. We have tried picking out the outfit the night before (a suggestion that works for my neighbor-she says her daughter's will is lower then). This tactic worked for about 2 weeks, but now..... She and I just had an ugly head butting over an outfit that she LOVED and I HATED, but it fit her well, so I said OK. This is so much more frustrating because whether it's shoes or clothes, she likes it in the store, we try it on and bring it home, I wash it, and then she won't wear it.

Seriously, I would like for my daughter to wear shoes that don't look like they've been run over by a MAC truck about 50 times!

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So What Happened?

THANK YOU to all who responded!!! There were some great suggestions in the responses and I am already using some of them. Believe it or not, I think this all stemmed from her shoes. Since I posted, we have figured out that she has a wide foot. We were walking in an outdoor mall and she complained about her shoes hurting. We sat down (yes, on the sidewalk :-) and I asked her to show me EXACTLY where it hurt. She's never been able to point anything out specifically before. This time, she pointed to her little toe. Believe it or not, we were right outside a shoe store. We went in and she has a wide foot. I didn't even consider that. Come to find out, there are at least 5 people in our immediate family that wear wide shoes, including my husband. DUH. I feel so stupid. Anyway, we bought a pair of wide tennis shoes and well.... Things have been MUCH quieter on the getting dressed front! I'm waiting for a week or so to make sure that's part of the issue before we hit the Stride Rite store. I have just always bought shoes at Target, Wal-Mart, Shoe Carousel, etc. I just realized that many kids shoes don't have cushy soles like ours!

I know this is long, but I am just so ECSTATIC that we may have found a root cause!

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answers from Spartanburg on

It sounds like even though you two have fought about what she wears you usually give in because you don't have time to fight and even though you tell her she will stay home from preschool she probably never has, so you are teaching her that if she makes a big enough deal about it and goes long enough then she will get her way and you will walk away frustrated. My daughter can be difficult like that too, she hates those side tags that they are starting to put in shirts, especially the tagless shirts, and I have to admit that they do sometimes scratch, so I took my thread puller and pulled the all out so she has nothing to complain about and we don't have problems with her, also we started letting her pick out her clothes when she was three because we got tired of I don't like that lines we would get in the morning. now we do have to approve the outfit, but if she doesn't like it then we don't get it. And when we get it home if she says she doesn't like it or whatever we say you picked it out and that is the deal so not to complain and that has worked for us. You could resort to punishing her when she doesn't wear her clothes you pick out for disobedience but that is up to you.
Oh side note, gap, old navy, and kohls among so many other stores are now carrying adjustable tab pants, you can adjust them tighter or looser depending on what they need, so you can get them as long as you need which for us mean buying a 6 for a 5 year old and then we can tighten the waist so they don't fall off. Good luck .

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answers from Dothan on

Hello J.,

I have a four year old daughter and we go through very similar things (she likes to wear swimsuits and flip flops year round!!) Depending on the situation I pick my battles at home she wears them under her clothes but if we go somewhere she has to change, she also likes to pick out her own clothes and most of the time and they are not appropriate and that is what I tell her. I know it is hard sometimes, but you may have to be firm with her and let her know that she can not always get her way, I think this is her being a girl.

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answers from Dothan on


I sympothize with you completely. I'd like to tell you it gets better when they get older, but it doesn't. I have two six year olds. My son can pick out his clothes in two seconds, my daughter takes twenty minutes sometimes to find something "appropriate!" I'm sorry! But I can help you out with your current problem.

Right now is the time to "get a handle on it!" She is only 3 1/2, so ultimately the final decision is yours. If you start with this the time she is five and ready for Kindergarten, you shouldn't have this problem.

1.) If comfort is the problem, make sure of the following when shopping: Comfortable all elastic waistband. Stick with knit pants as much as possible. Make sure the shirts, dresses or pants are not tight. Keep everything simple.

2.) Next, make the Dora Tennis Shoes disappear in the middle of the night. Replace them with a fun pair of Stride Rite tennis shoes styled to look like Mary Janes and another pair of simple Keds or Mary Janes to go with her dresses. The Mary Janes are commonly found anywhere you can buy school uniforms. Stride Rite has some really fun colors this year. Check out or for some great deals!

3.) Before she goes to bed, lay out two outfits. Let her pick between the two pair of school shoes and what outfit she will wear. Let her pick how to pull her hair back too. (My daughter loves to do this...she is a girly girl and that is a treat for her.) Let her choose between a hairbow, headband, etc. They have some great ones at !!!

4.) Lastly, give her 10 minutes to get dressed in the morning. If she goes over 10 minutes, take away 10 minutes of tv that afternoon for every minute she goes over her time alloted. Don't make a big deal about it before she goes to school, but just remind her when she comes home. Explain why and it may have a larger affect on her.

5.) Here are some clothing brands that last and are great for active kids: LL Bean Kids, Hanna Anderson ( Kellys Kids, Vitamins, Carters. My son had a thing for comfortable clothes. No tags for him at all!!!

Good luck and I hope things go well for you and your daughter! And don't forget to ditch the Dora shoes!!! LOL

And by the way, I have a friend who kept her son home one day (as you stated earlier) because he told her he did not want to go potty in the big potty anymore. He wanted a pull-up. She said "okay, we'll stay home until you do, I'll call my work." (He was 4 1/2 and had previously been potty trained and was out of pull-ups.) He quickly decided he would wear his big boy pants again and didn't want to stay home with mom because that she wasn't much fun when she called in sick from work!!! LOL

Take care,
Lee : )

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answers from Norfolk on

This sounds like such a familiar scenario. My daughter is 5 and we still have these issues. First of all, choose your battles. If she wants to wear something that doesn't match, etc. and you can get her dressed without an all out battle, then let her wear it. Believe you me, it might hurt your ego, but it makes for a much smoother morning. If she has shoes that you really don't want her to wear, then give them a proper burial. Out of sight, out of mind. Also, maybe try picking out 2 outfits you approve of and let her choose which one she wants to wear. That way, you're happy with what she's wearing and she's happy b/c she gets some say in the matter. In addition, try making dress time a game. Kids love games and it could be a good distraction from the issue at hand. Try getting dressed together, maybe even letting her help you decide between two of your outfits. Then, have a race to see who can get dressed the fastest. These are some of the things I've tried with my daughter and it seems to help. I have a very strong-willed little princess so I've had to stretch my imagination. Good luck!


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answers from Tuscaloosa on

Oh I wish I could tell you it will get better. My daughter is 9 and we go round and round about clothes. I buy and she will not wear. We have a rule that if she picks it out in the store, we try it on, if it fits and she says she will wear it we buy it. Then if we get it home and she decides she doesn't like it she gets punished for not being a good steward. This has cut down on some of our problems but not all. Mom also gets to say what she wears to certain places. (NO MATTER IF SHE LIKES IT OR NOT) It's not many places but church and things like that. As for the shoes. Get them out of the house. When she goes to bed they would disappear. My son names his shoes. Why, we don't know but it has helped when he gets in a rut of wanting to wear the same ones all the time we tell him his ?? shoes are feeling sad because they haven't gotten to see anything new. I know it sounds crazy but it works. However, my son is not near as strong willed as my daughter. It must be a girl thing. I have gone as far as to tell mine she was going to have to go to the store naked if she didn't get something on that didn't look like she lived in a trash dump. (of course I'm not sure what I would do if she didn't get dressed but she hasn't called my bluff lol) I know my daughter likes the crock shoes. They are very comfy and you can wear them year round. We have them in a rainbow of colors and we just wear socks with them when its cold. If your daughter likes summer shoes this might help. (we don't buy the crock brand we get ours from Payless and they are so soft it's like not having on shoes)
I hope this helps because I know the last thing you want to hear is that one day she will be grown and you will wish you could fight over clothes. (this is what my mother always tells me when I call to vent)

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answers from Charlotte on

Ok I agree with the whole pick your battle thing but if your daughter is causing this much of a disturbance, it is definitely time to put your foot down. You could let her pick out one piece of clothing then you get to pick out the shirt/pant that you thinks matches it best. You could try it at night, so she has plenty of time to pick her part out but explain you will be picking out the other half and she has to wear it. You could wait till morning to pick out yours so she has no time to object, put her in it and go. You know has a mother if she is comfortable or not (fits correctly), sounds like she found an excuse that works. Our now 7 yr old son was like that (head strong) and that's what finally worked for us. He did want to wear his play shoes to church but the battle was on and I explained that for certain (fill in blank) places you have to wear the right shoes and he had no choice put them on or you are not playing in your room when you get home. I would lock the door for an hour (or longer depending on his behavior)to his room and he could not watch tv in the family room either. I wish you the best, the situation will get better on this aspect but will only turn to another issue if she continues to be head strong, take it with a grain of salt and do the best you can. As our son has grown, maturity comes with it, and easier to reason with him. Good luck!

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answers from Charleston on

I don't know if I can help you, but I can share your pain. My duaghter will be 5 next month and we have been going through the same thing since she was probably 2. I just bought her a Bat Girl costume for Holloween, that she asked for for almost 2 weeks (usually she changes her mind everyday). We buy it, she tries it on, she loves it, we get home.... "I don't like it, It doesn't feel good, it's too tight." I was so furious. I told her "You are going to wear it, I am not going to buy you another costume, because now you don't like it"! She has been a pain in the neck about clothes, but I have just kept on being firm with her, and it has gotten better. I really try not to let her see me get mad at her because then it seems like she gets worse. I just tell her in the most upbeat voice, " I am sorry you don't like it, but you are going to wear this outfit." I do compromise with some things, but not all the time. My daughter will usally take the mile when given an inch. Well sorry I couldn't help you but you are not alone, and I have a feeling it will only get worse as they get older! You know, they are girls:)

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answers from Charleston on

My sister always told me to pick my battles wisely. I understand that you and your daughter have a difference in taste but atleast she is putting on shoes and cloths. I think this is a way of her showing her independence which is very important to children. I personally have not gone through it and am not looking foward to it but I have watch my sister battle with her son and daughter about what they are going to wear. It can get ugly sometimes. Well I wish you the best of luck and are able to find a middle ground

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