What to do when kids refuse to put on certain clothing

By Gail Belsky

Expert reviewed by Mark J. Griffin, PhD

When kids refuse to put on certain clothes, it might seem like they’re just being difficult. But refusing clothing may not be about stubbornness. Some kids are so sensitive to how different types of clothing feel that they can’t tolerate wearing them. 

When kids refuse to put on clothing — whatever the reason — it can be frustrating and get in the way of daily routines. It can also be hard to know what to do. 

The good news is there are many ways to help, both in the moment and ahead of time. First, try not to show your own frustration. Adding more emotion to the situation is likely to make it worse. The key is to focus on solutions and to let kids know you’ll work with them on it.

When kids have extreme reactions to clothing, it can be very stressful for them. You can give them a small sense of control by waiting for a calm moment and then asking what they think might help. Kids often come up with ideas that work best because they’re the only ones who can really feel what’s bothering them.

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