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Unless he's going swimming, my 3 1/2 year old son always wears a long sleeve shirt and pants (not jeans and not button down shirts). I'm not expecting a 3 1/2 year old for logic and but I don't think this is merely psychosis, just stubbornness and a desire to assert his own will.

I think he needs to wear less clothes, especially as hot as the summer has been and his clothes are just plain old wearing out. We've got 3x more t-shirts than long sleeve shirts and they've never, ever been worn.

What's a good way to coax a little man out of his style, just for the sake of prudence.

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I can't answer the question, but will say it's not uncommon for kids to have particular (if not weird) preferences with the clothing. – DA01 Jun 26 '12 at 20:01
The summer came and my daughter would start her winter song of "boots, coat, hat, mitts." She'd keep asking for them, so I just hid them. "Boots all gone! Let's wear sandals!" – Swati Jun 26 '12 at 20:14

Be sure that you are certain about what the common factor is. It might appear to be the long vs. short but it might also be a texture thing. For a while my son would refuse to wear anything but soft clothing most of which were long like sweat pants and warm long sleeved shirts.

I have to disagree with what Rory said though. I reserve such draconian measures for the things that really matter like sugar and TV. It's important that our children feel like they have some control over their lives so I find it important to give in on the things that don't matter and take a stand when it does. Pick your battles as there will be many.

In the end our son simply got over his insistence upon only wearing soft clothes. Whether it was due to him growing out of it or our parenting is impossible to know but here are the things that we do when it comes to his resistance to new things (like food).

  • Not make a big deal about it. I find telling him not to do something he likes doing only encourages him to do it. "No shorts today? Ok. What do you want to wear?"
  • Give him an out. If you re-enforce the idea that he may change his mind later then it allows him to come to it on his own without feeling forced into something he doesn't like. "Ok, maybe tomorrow."
  • Bribery. Give him some sort of direct incentive to try something new. This doesn't mean "you can have a cookie if you wear shorts" because that is indirect. Does he have a special character or type of toy he really likes? "Do you want to get some Lightning McQueen shorts & t-shirt today?"
  • "If you try it you will like it". This one is last because it has more to do with food and he got it from his school but it's done wonders. Just getting him to try a food is usually the hardest part so when he brought this little saying into his life (said with a bit of a sing-song aspect) it was a game changer.

These aren't really parenting techniques as they are communication techniques. Specifically non-violent communication which I have found to be my best tool for parenting a stubborn three year old.

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"If you try it you will like it" - we do it in the reverse: since Yo Gabba Gabba taught the kids "Try it, you might like it!" I actually sing "Try it, you might hate it!" The kids take pleasure in correcting me, and then forget that they were going to hate it, try it, and, more often than not, decide they like it. – Tanktalus Jul 5 '12 at 16:35
Depending on your local climate, keeping a 3 year old out of pants and long sleeve shirts during the summer really matters. – afrazier Jun 26 '13 at 14:57
Oh that's a god one @Tanktalus I'll have to give that a try. – Thomas Paine Jul 3 '13 at 4:51

If you don't buy long sleeved shirts and trousers he won't be able to wear them. If you want to limit what a child wears, it is easier to only give them choices which you approve of.

If the trousers are wearing out, perhaps they should be thrown away and new ones not bought until the winter. For ones that aren't wearing out, hide them away during the summer.

We tend to move clothes into and out of the attic as appropriate for the seasons, not because the kids demand them, but just to save space, and this means that through the summer they have summer clothes, and in the winter they have winter clothes.

It may seem a bit dictatorial, but it actually makes things pretty easy.

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+1 A lot of professionals seem to recommend offering your child choices whenever possible, but limiting them to those you find acceptable. Here's one site I found with a quick search, but there's a lot written on this.… – Jaydles Jun 26 '12 at 21:09

One of my children also refused to wear shorts. I found zip off pants were a great solution. You put on pants, and if it gets hot you zip off the legs and now you're wearing shorts. Feel a little cool, put the legs back on. For the shirts, you could suggest wearing a tshirt under a longsleeved shirt, and later if it's hot suggest taking off the long sleeved shirt.

I only started caring about it because there were times when he was clearly hot and uncomfortable mid-day, and not playing as he could outside, as a result of clothing choices made much earlier. Using zip off pants and layers of shirts made these decisions less binding and gave him the freedom to control what he wore. This is especially true if you're dressing in the morning and then leaving the house for the day.

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Try laying out two choices you like and saying, "Which outfit would you like to wear today, this one or this one." If it is about his wish to assert himself, he'll feel like he is being given a choice and you are still getting him to wear lighter clothing. Try this everyday for a month of so and if it works, by the time the month is over you can let him totally choose again with the assertion, "as long as".

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