Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

By Jennie 1 1

My 8 year old, very bright grand-daughter who reads at a 13 year old level, plays guitar and violin, and has played soccer, will no longer wear "any" pants, skirts or socks in the past month. The doctors say she has anxiety and to put her in comfy clothes and send her to school. But absolutely "no" clothes are comfy for her. She eats a variety of foods and changes of detergents have no result. She cannot go to school and is very sad; she can't go to OT or therapy as she will not keep clothes on.

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By Jennie from Albany, NY

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By Joan 13 1,479 Flag

November 29, 2010

Can't she be made to leave the clothes on to take her out? One of my grandkids got sent to school in their pjs one time because they refused to get dressed for school, their clothes got sent with them. Their Mother called the school and let them know what was going on. After that the kid always got dressed because some of the other kids had teased them about wearing their pjs to school. It worked.

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By Linda L. 83 330 Flag

November 30, 2010

You mention therapy and OT-does this child have autistic spectrum disorder or other special needs? If so, she may have a sensory integration issue and a skilled teacher or therapist can help with a program for her. If she is not a special needs child why can she not understand that if she refuses to wear clothes she is choosing to not be able to go to school, therapy, etc. Remind her that she can go to school, etc with all the kids when she chooses to dress like all the kids do. It sounds like there is something else going on and a psychologist/therapist is needed. She can probably go in her PJs if necessary. Is the refusal to wear clothes an attention getting behavior?

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By merlene smith 4 311 Flag

November 30, 2010

What type of doctor is saying this? She is seeing a doctor that specializes in anxiety (emotional) conditions. She may need to see a specialist if she isn't currently doing so. Best wishes for her.

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thr522587 Flag

November 30, 2010

It sounds to me like she needs to see a specialist as soon as possible. It could be something as simple as her way of control or it also could be something traumatic has happened to her if it's not physiological. I know this sounds mean but if she won't keep or put her clothes on take her to a specialist naked and just keep a blanket with you for modesty sake. I know that sounds mean but it's more mean and harmful to not do something about solving this problem.

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By vicki hood 4 563 Flag

November 30, 2010

Probably a trauma that needs a therapist doctor not a GP. For such a quick change in this bright little girl, something hurt her or scared her and she needs someone who can get her to talk without fear. Sometimes that is not a Mom or Dad. She could also be under threat.

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By susan 33 441 Flag

December 1, 2010

I am training to be a special needs teacher and I think your granddaughter should have some psychological testing. Her school should be able to do it free of charge at home or school. She may have some sort of disability such as being on the autism spectrum or even an allergy; allergies with children sometimes have different symptoms. Good luck.

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By Jennie 1 1 Flag

December 2, 2010

This child is seeing a counselor; was tested for any autistic or aspergers syndroms; she should not be spanked for having a serious problem that she cannot control and is making her very sad. Therapist says there are some sensory issues besides emotional problems; but, since she is so bright and wants to get better, that the prognosis, though long and arduous, is good.

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By Debbie 1 Flag

February 1, 2011

I think the problem might be the hem and labels in clothes. They make them itch, feel like spinter's. I have a 22 yr old that started months ago, first started taking the hem out of socks, then & still take the hem out of the bottom of pants & shirts. I read alot of blogs written by autistic adults that all mentioned they don't like hems & labels in their clothes. Hope this helps.

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By marlenej 1 Flag

February 2, 2014

No, do not fight with your gd order Hanna Anderrson undies. No tags, no labels, no seams and no wedgies. They are a bit pricey 3 prs for $15 but worth every penny. Her visitation daddy steals them (sends her home w/no panties) and her mommy just takes them and send her home in boy unders from Walmart. The girl loves them.

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Archive: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

My 7 year old granddaughter won't wear underwear. Mother has tried all types, she goes hysterical and breaks out in blotches on her face. Not only that she does not wear socks, dungarees, or tight pants.


Has anyone ever heard of this, and if so please advise how you dealt with the problem.

By Ann from Tyngsboro, MA

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RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

It sounds like she might possibly be tactilly defensive. That just means that a person is very sensitive to their sense of touch. Her body tells her that that elastic waist band, or tight socks, or stiff/rough material is painful. She has hysterics because, to her, it feels really bad, and she is still expected to wear it. Everyday. Think of it this way: let's say you really hate hot and spicy food. Burns your mouth, tastes terrible. But people keep on feeding it to you for every meal. You say you hate it, and they tell you to get used to it. Maybe they get mad at you. You can't like it, you can't get used to it. You are so upset, you get hysterical. Then they try to give you something you can tolerate. You learn to get hysterical because it works, and it is really, really important to you.

Tactile defensiveness is a sensory integration problem. Kids who have it may be unable to tolerate certain sensations, or may crave exaggerated sensations. They might hate being touched unless they initiate it. They might have certain other behavior problems that puzzle their parents and teachers. People might say they are too fussy, or that they cause trouble. You can look sensory integration and tactile defensiveness up on-line. One good site is for The Out-of-Sync Child.

All the clothes you list are very common agitators for some people. Elastic waist bands or cuffs. Form fitting socks, or loose socks that might bunch up and wrinkle. Stiff materials, rough materials. These things might not feel rough or tight to us, but they feel just horrible to her, and there is just no way for her to ignore it. If she is forced to wear it, she might stop complaining about it, but she might be fidgety and cranky and unable to focus that day because it bothers her so much.

If she is tactilly defensive, she needs some help. It's not something her mom or anyone else "should" have known. I know about it because of my education, training, and profession, and also because my grandson has a sensory integrative disorder. He is a bright, happy, wonderful 3-year old, but there are some real issues for him. Luckily, there are things that can be done to help.

If she doesn't have this problem, then adjustments just need to be made. Heck, nothing wrong with personal preference. No guilt for the little sweetie! The underwear problem might be from the elastic, so it will be tough. I don't know of any that don't use elastic. It sounds like the rest will be easier. Loose, soft clothing might be the key. Also changing detergent/fabric softener might help.

Sorry I wrote such a long response. Hope it was helpful! (05/20/2010)

By schyresti

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

With that many aversions to clothing I would suggest that she may be on the autism spectrum. Does she have other idiosyncrasies compared to her peers? She may be a high functioning autistic child or just on the spectrum, sometimes this is hereditary, is there anyone else in her mother or father's family with tactile problems or deficient in social skills? Good luck. (05/20/2010)

By yoder178

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

schyrest has covered the whole issue well.

As an adoptive mom, my kids had these issues along with the FAS and probably AS (aspergers). We did brushing and compressions and it helped.

Did she wear training panties? if so what is different? Softer? Elastic covered? Baggier? Tighter? Material, etc.

If she wore new underwear with tags it will feel like someone is cutting into her. The sizing in new clothes can take more than one washing to get out, another reason yard sales are best.

Hand me downs worked best, no tags. New clothes take a long time to get to the point of comfortable, lots of screaming and problems, avoid the hassles yard sales are your friend.

If you sew consider trying to make underwear (use bathing suit pattern). Try flannel or recycled t-shirt material. Try various types of elastic, there is a wide lacy type elastic that distributes the pressure vs just in one area. If they have a sensitivity to the elastic itself put in a casing (I can't wear most bras, I break out in red rash, and if I wear long enough it turns into blisters).

In the old days there was underwear similar to the new style boxers that were like shorts (no leg elastic).

My third son would only wear sweats, t-shirts from yard sales because the necks were stretched out.
My second son always had to have a t-shirt under long flannel shirts (we are in Maine) because they moved and touched skin at different places.
My girlfriend's dear daughter will only wear capri type tights, no jeans, or sweats if they touch her ankles (has to be pant cut not elastic). (05/21/2010)

By HSLINKS

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

Maybe she is allergic to the laundry soap or fabric softener. (05/21/2010)

By craftyme

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

I am on the same thinking lines with Yoder and Schyresti. I would take her to the doctor and talk with them about it since it is not just the underwear! (05/21/2010)

By Teresa Kay

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

My son and first child was exactly like this. He was very specific about what clothes he would wear. No jeans, no shirts with seams, no underwear with buttons, no briefs, only some boxers. He would not wear any clothes with any metal on it. He didn't even like to look at certain color metals like on a door knob. He used our silverware at home, but everywhere else he used plastic. It drove me crazy. I bought hundreds of dollars of clothes that he wouldn't wear. I begged, pleaded and punished. Nothing worked. Finally I gave in and let him do what felt comfortable to him and "it worked".

He is now 22 and in his final year at a great college. He turned out to be a very smart kid and got a free ride to college. He met a wonderful girl who loves him despite the fact that she can't wear earrings around him. I am so proud of him. Don't worry. Sorry so long. (05/21/2010)

By TC in MO

Archive: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

I have a 7 year old granddaughter who will not wear underwear or anything she feels is too tight. We've tried everything from larger sizes to trying every style of undies for children. She needs to stretch everything before she puts it on. Aside from being unclean, we have no idea how to handle this problem? Any suggestions?

By Ann from Tyngsboro, MA

Feedback:

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

It could be that she is allergic to the latex in the elastic. You could try 100% cotton underwear that has the elastic enclosed in hems at the waist and leg openings. She could also have an undiagnosed stomach or bowel problem, and the elastic around her waist is aggravating it. (08/06/2010)

By Patty Lynn

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

How about pull ups? She may be on the spectrum of autism, not necessarily autistic, but on the spectrum. Many of these children seem egocentric in some ways, but act normal in most other ways and function well. I am on the spectrum, as is my son, we do not like collars or clothing that does not have mostly natural fibers in it. Some children just don't like the waistbands. Talk with a professional like a autism teacher to find out how to deal with it without making your daughter feel totally out of control. (08/10/2010)

By yoder178

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

My daughter had the same problem. She is now nine, and has grown out of it. My advice is to not get overly excited about it. There were days she just did not wear underwear, and I didn't throw a fit. She is now fine with wearing underwear. Sometimes, it is just a phase. Of course, it may be other things like allergies to the materials or extreme sensitivity to them. My family is extremely sensitive to laundry detergents. I have finally found one that doesn't make us itch and get rashes. It is All Free and Clear. (08/11/2010)

By marysescapades

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

Check with her pediatrician for allergies and/or an autism spectrum disorder. Some people are just hyper-sensitive to how their clothing fits, and you just learn to deal with it. My son is 13 1/2 and very picky about socks and shoes and how they fit. We have finally worked out which specific brands and styles work for him. (08/11/2010)

By MooseMom

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

I am now 44 years old and I have never been able to stand wearing tight or rough clothes. The physical sensation is very annoying and irritating and just makes my day horrible. I recommend just letting her go without panties for the time being, she will probably eventually start wearing them (peer pressure). I personally cannot stand socks with terrycloth bumps on the inside, they must be smooth inside or else I have to turn them inside out. I've found that diabetic socks are a great choice as they don't have tight elastic. I wore a bra when I was younger, but finally in my 20s it turned into torture and I stopped wearing one. I compensate by wearing loose shirts so you can't tell that I'm not wearing a bra. My skin is so sensitive that I can feel a single hair laying on it. If she is anything like me you need to be accommodating to her unique needs. Fleece is a wonder item by the way, very soft. Good luck to you and to her of course, she is not alone.
(08/12/2010)

By Anne136

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

I agree with some of the posts that wonder about autism. I don't think this is an allergy because most likely you would see a rash. She may just have issues with the constriction of the clothing. I am the same way, I feel like I am suffocating. My sons do not wear socks that have seams across their toes. Maybe you can try the girl panties that they call boy underwear they look like little shorts. Good luck on this I just think she is highly sensitive. (08/15/2010)

By mamaeverett

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

If you have a friend or family member that sews, let your granddaughter help pick out some fabric she likes, and have someone sew her some that fit her comfortably. I Googled "pattern for underwear" online and found several free patterns for children you can print (and probably adjust so it is comfortable for her, too.) (08/17/2010)

By Lee

RE: 7 Year Old Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

My 7 year old does not wear underwear either. I'm with the autism spectrum, but this runs in families. The knot in socks feels like pebbles to a child that has extremely sensitive skin. I no longer stress about her not wearing underwear because if anyone else notices then there too close to my daughter, and I told her if anyone asks, tell them to ask her mother. (08/22/2010)

By Karenmich

Archive: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

My 5 year old granddaughter will not wear underwear. She has difficulty with different clothing and cries like crazy if she has to wear socks. She will only wear crocks with the material attached to the inside. Any suggestions?

By Stella from Regina, Saskatchewan

Feedback:

RE: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

Set down a few ground rules on who is the boss and what is appropriate. If her feet get cold enough without socks in the winter, she will give in. I am in my 70s and just don't see all these problems people have with little kids not wanting to wear certain items of clothing. (10/27/2010)

By redhatterb

RE: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

Your granddaughter could be allergic to latex, which is in the elastic on the underwear and socks, and it could really bother her to wear these items. It might be a good idea to have her checked for allergies. (10/27/2010)

By Patty Lynn

RE: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

Yes, Patty Lynn is correct. I would take her to have her checked for allergies. My grandson has allergies and can't wear certain items. His ankles break out in blotches. My daughter can only use certain laundry detergents. (10/29/2010)

By xintexas

RE: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

I agree the child should be tested for allergies. Maybe the laundry soap or fabric softener are causing discomfort and itching or a burning feeling. Double rinse the clothes after washing and dry without fabric softener sheets. Try to use cotton undies and avoid nylon and other synthetic fabrics. (10/29/2010)

By fresca03

RE: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

Please find a child psychologist for her and ask about Sensory Integration Disorder. You can Google it for info to see how closely it might fit. A good friend of mine's son has it and yes allergies seem to play a big part in it, but there is behavioral treatment available also. Good luck! (10/29/2010)

By elle1972

RE: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

I am surprised to see the number of folks who are familiar with this situation, as I can relate to all of these examples. I could never stand anything tight or "rough" and I always rolled down my underwear and pulled my pants below my waist (to avoid any rubbing or pressure on my stomach). Now that I'm older I buy Hanes (all cotton) bikini underwear and worn jeans from Goodwill; and need to use "additive-free" detergent and fabric softener. (10/31/2010)

By Raechyl

RE: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

Does it really matter? Why not let her try on clothes and just allow her to pick out what she'd like to wear. It may not make you happy. Sometimes it's a way of having a bit of control when children feel they have none. Just part of growing up. (11/19/2010)

By takelababy

RE: Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

My 5 year old daughter is the same way, she absolutely refuses to wear socks and hates wearing underwear. She hasn't worn any kind of sock in years. She will wear her shoes without a fight, whether Keds or ballet flats or Mary Janes, but only as long as she doesn't have to wear any socks or tights with them; although she's OK wearing footless tights as long as she's able to have her bare foot in the shoe without socks. I didn't really care if my daughter didn't want to ever wear socks, since I don't wear socks much myself, but the no underwear issue seemed like something troubling.

She's been avoiding both socks and underwear for almost a year, but her not wearing underwear only really became an issue this fall. After I had given in and agreed that she did not have to wear socks with her shoes if she did not want to, she started dressing herself for kindergarten everyday and seemed to be doing very good. However, apparently she was not wearing underwear to school for almost 3 months before I found out.

When I first started making her wear underwear to school last month, I found out that she was going to the girls' room and taking her underwear off and putting her pants or dress back on without underwear and go back to class. I've tried to talk to her about why she needs to wear underwear, but nothing seems to work. She claims to "not like the way it feels" but she doesn't seems to mind wearing all manner of pants from jeans to soccer shorts to dresses without underwear. So, I'm not so sure.

One of my friends said her daughter was the same way between 5 to 9 years old and was always playing games not wanting to wear underwear. She said that after she couldn't take it anymore, she eventually decided to let her daughter not wear underwear at all and started taking both her daughter's socks and underwear from her drawer and told her that she could only have them when she was a big girl and decided to ask for them. I guess it was reverse psychology, but for over a year she wouldn't let her then 9 year old daughter have underwear even when she begged for it. Needless to say, she and I disagreed about her parenting method; but I was surprised that it kind of worked.

She told her daughter that she'd be allowed to wear underwear when she turned 10 years old, if she behaved herself for the rest of the year. Apparently it worked somewhat and her daughter both acted better and now agrees to wear underwear at least two days almost every week.

I don't want to find myself having to fight with my daughter over underwear for another 5 years. After my daughter's kindergarten teacher asked me last week why she hasn't been wearing underwear to class, I decided to to set up a meeting with the elementary school counselor after the holidays to discuss what they'd recommend. I can't afford a private psychiatrist out of pocket and don't have adequate health insurance to cover it; so the school counselor is our best bet.

Addie (11/22/2010)

By addiesmokes

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Parenting Grade Schooler BehaviorNovember 29, 2010
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