Child Refuses to Wear Underwear and Other Clothing Items

Child Buttoning Shirt
This is a page about a child refusing to wear underwear and other clothing items. There are numerous reasons that a child might refuse to wear certain types of clothing. It could be out of stubbornness, physical discomfort, or a range of psychological causes. Here is some advice if you are struggling with this issue.

5 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

November 29, 2010

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.

By Jennie from Albany, NY


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November 30, 20101 found this helpful
Best Answer

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?

February 1, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

January 6, 20161 found this helpful
Best Answer

I am in same scenario! I am seeing a specialist but in meantime Google clothing and sensory in same phrase... It is unbelievable! This is a sensory disorder! My daughter won't wear jeans or shirts or socks and I am looking for a new wardrobe and don't know where to go...


She hates the seams in the shirts and in the crotch and so far I can only find seamless socks... All the sites I have googled encourage short sleeve shirts and sweats good luck!

September 15, 20160 found this helpful
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When my daughter was 4 we had to turn the underwear inside out same with socks but the socks had to have color on the toe and heel. Still have the sock issues and it only took 8 stores this time to fine them. Underwear in ok now but now My daughter doesn't wear jeans, sweatpants or shorts. Once in a while a skirt put definitely not skorts. She will wear dresses but they can't have a line in the front or back. Also seamless pants are ok sometimes but I have to watch which ones I buy. As for the tops to go with the seamless pants they can only be short sleeves not spaghetti straps.

October 19, 20172 found this helpful
Best Answer

I realize this is an old thread but...A person can have sensory processing disorder without being on the spectrum, although it can be one of a number of spectrum characteristics. SPD is also more prevalent in those with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. It is not attention seeking behavior and to treat it as such and reprimand or shame a child who has this disorder risks alienating a child already struggling.


These kids have a visceral reaction and it's usually an ongoing issue, although it may get worse with increased anxiety. This post reminds me that we have a long way to go in recognizing and treating neurological and mental health issues in our children and stop treating them so dismissively.

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August 26, 2019

My 5 year old daughter has developed a fear of wearing her knickers over the past few months which has gradually gotten worse to the point where she screams her head off, cries and throws herself to the floor if we try to get her to wear them. When we do manage to get her to wear them as soon as she goes for a wee she will refuse to put them back on saying she still needs a wee even though she will have spent half an hour sitting on the toilet having done 3/4 wees.

When I've asked her what she doesn't like she says it's because she feels scared of weeing in her knickers, but she's not scared when her knickers are off. It's frustrating for us because it's come out of no where and she's never had accidents before so we don't understand where this fear has come from. This has given her high anxiety which has presented in other unusual behaviours such as sucking/biting her fingers, walking round in circles, only wanting to wear the same clothes everyday and the same shoes, which have to be washed before she will put them on and wash her feet before she will put the shoes on, we are waiting for an appointment with an OT, but are at a loss on what to do until then as we have tried a lot of things to help her, but nothing we do seems to help her.

She was assessed for ASD, but wasn't diagnosed at that time as doctors where unsure as she had only just turned 4 and wanted to wait and see her again in a year. So we don't know if that could be why she's started these new behaviours, also breaking up for the school holidays has knocked her routine out so that has had an impact. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


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August 27, 20190 found this helpful

Prayers for your sweetie! I hope they can get you in sooner as I think getting professional directions is what is going to help you the most.

I have 3 suggestions


1. Do you think she would benefit from a trip to the store and be allowed her to pick the undergarment of her choice, would that help her want to wear she feels she has some control?

2. I also wonder if she is having some tactile defensiveness and the material of the undergarments she has are painful for her skin. What are the made from? Like if they are a poly material, maybe try an all cotton material or if you have all cotton try a poly material. Sometimes a change in fabric helps.

3. Have you tried the pull up diapers to help her through this phase? If she is afraid she is going to have an accident in her pretty undies, maybe find something where it is OK if she has an accident (and put the pretty ones on the outside so they are not damaged).


Please post back with an update. Sending lots of good wishes to you both for an easy solution.


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August 27, 20190 found this helpful

The change in schedule must have set her off.
I would talk to her doctor. 5 years old is old to be having these issues, especially since she was trained before.


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August 27, 20190 found this helpful

I am so sorry to hear this. My grandson started to have similuar issues with the foods he ate and not touching one another on his plate. To me this sounds like someone at school has been teasing her about wearing her knickers. I am not sure but this can also cause problems with children and how they feel in their clothes.

If your daugher only wants to wear certain clothes and she is so upset when you want her to wear her knicker it might be time to take her shopping and allow her to choose her own clothes.

Maybe it is time to take her back to the doctor and see what they can tell you about her behavior. It is not good to allow her to walk around biting on her fingers and sitting on the toilet for 2 to 3 hours at a time.


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August 27, 20190 found this helpful

Please don't give up hope. Hope is everything!! Once she gets in to the doctor perhaps there will be solutions that can help either with a therapy or a medication or both.

Maybe just back off from the topic for a while and let her stay home. Then when things have settled revisit the topic.

Can you do home schooling for a week?

Please post back when you can get her in to the doctor, what the doctor says.

You will be in my prayers.

December 22, 20190 found this helpful

My daughter is EXACTLY LIKE THIS! there is no logical solution that she will accept and she is 6! Ive tried special sensory underwear, seamless types, boy short types, etc. We have tried cutting off the threads and edging on some other pairs. Ive tried taking her to the store and letting her choose clothes. She is missing things she wants to do because she cant tolerate underwear. We have to physically out her in the car on various states of dress so that she wont miss school. She will finally agree to something when under duress. Im waiting for an neuropsychology eval and she is starting OT for sensory sensitivity in 2 weeks. In the meantime, our family cant function properly. I am completely at the end of my rope with tantrums and meltdowns and I know she is suffering too.

June 13, 20210 found this helpful

Hi, I know this is an old post but wondering how you got on with therapy for this. I have a 5yr old daughter with exactly same challenges and wondering what to do as getting worse. We take her shopping all the time to try and find solutions but more clothes/options does not seem to be the answer.

March 4, 20230 found this helpful

Hello. Several years have passed already. Please let me know if your problem have been resolved. Everything is very similar with our 4-years child now.

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November 29, 2010

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


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 Joan

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 Patricia Eldridge

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

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 Christine

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 elle

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

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 Joan

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 Addie

Read More Comments

August 5, 2010

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.


October 26, 2010

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.

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