My seven-year-old daughter only ever wants to wear skirts, dresses, or sweat pants. Most of the time, this is just fine, but there are occasions when jeans or slacks are really the most appropriate item to wear (particularly field experiences and times when we will be doing activities where we get down on our hands and knees in the dirt).

For those of you who may have a more urban life-style or live in a place with a more forgiving ecosystems nearby, there are outdoor activities we do that because of the type of activity, and/or the type of brush and habitat we are working in, having clothing that covers the entire leg really is necessary.

Besides, she is growing up, looks good in jeans and slacks and it is just time for her wardrobe to expand in this direction.

How can I make sure she is as comfortabe as possible so she can enjoy these other types of clothes for when she does need to wear them?

  • How old? That's quite different for a 3 year old then a 13 year old!!
    – Hilmar
    Dec 1, 2013 at 22:23
  • @balancedmama How does she feel about skorts? Dec 2, 2013 at 16:05
  • Those are fine - but they don't work for hiking through brush (especially thorny places), working in the garden when she is kneeling a lot and other types of things, plus it is winter and starting to get colder. Dec 2, 2013 at 20:35
  • 4
    Farm girls grew up into farm wives for centuries -- millenia, even -- without ever wearing anything other than skirts. Just saying. :)
    – Martha
    Dec 2, 2013 at 23:33

3 Answers 3


It's super common for parents and children to disagree about what a child will need to be wearing in the immediate future (eg, when we get outside.) Anyone who lives in a place with a cold winter has had this argument about coats, hats, gloves, scarves, boots and so on.

My approach: say once that I think you should wear this. Take your word for it when say you you don't want to wear it. Bring it with us when we go. When you say that you are cold, or that your leg got scratched, or that you're getting muddy, offer the item that was previously spurned. DO NOT use a phrasing like "Oh, so I was right was I? Does this mean you wish you were wearing [item] after all? Ha! Ha!" but more like "Would these pants help?" or "I brought you a hat" and that's all. (In your case you might also need to bring something to help deal with the scenario that made pants appealing, like a damp cloth to clean up with.) The key is that what you happened to wear when you first got up or as you were leaving the house is not a binding commitment. You can change. There are often good reasons to do so. This eliminates any aspect of stubbornness or digging-the-heels-in from the decision.

Over time, you might change your initial offer from "I think you should wear [item]" to "remember yesterday when you didn't want to wear [item] but wanted it later?" but you might not need to. Over time, you might get fed up of being the one who is carrying [item] and possibly also the removed [original] but that is a milder problem to address.

  • 1
    This is actually a great idea, and I don't even have to carry item - she can carry it in her own pack, "just in case." Dec 2, 2013 at 23:55

It could be the rough feel of the fabric or a tight fit in some parts that she finds uncomfortable.

  • If she doesn't like the tight waist, she may like bib-overalls.
  • I have also seen jeans lined with sweatpants type of material that she may find more comfortable, although it is significantly warmer and probably only appropriate in winter.
  • In summer you could just let her use a skirt and let her knees get muddy.
  • I have also noticed that the fit of girls jeans tends to be extremely "skinny". She may want to shop for boys jeans with a looser fit.
  • If the only reason for her to wear slacks is fashion (you think she looks good in them), then let her win this part of the argument. I can't think of an occasion where they would be necessary, where a skirt couldn't be just as appropriate.
  • referring to the last bullet: We do a certain amount of hiking, geocaching, trailblazing and invasive species irradication (as volunteers). With Gardening, we are on rocky hard ground, weeding around succulents and fairly rough plants so heavy-duty fabric (such as work pants or heavy denim is needed) When we visit further north, we often also do fallen tree clearing. For safety, her legs need to be covered for these particular occasions. In very cold weather, skirts are not a good plan and slacks with a layer under are much better for things like school where sweats are too casual. Dec 2, 2013 at 20:53
  • The jeans lined with sweat pants material sound interesting. I have a feeling we are in a much more rural situation than most people would be where clothes that completely cover your lower half are less necessary. Dec 2, 2013 at 20:58
  • In regard to the last bullet, I make a distinction between slacks (a lighter weight material, more formal) and jeans (denim, built for getting dirty). I agree that tough material (such as jeans or overalls) is needed for the outdoor situations you describe. Slacks (as I understand them) would not be appropriate or necessary for those activities. Dec 9, 2013 at 15:38

My daughter also refused to wear jeans, until the kids were told they had to as part of their fifth-grade nature's classroom field trip. (Actually they were told they had to wear long pants -- no shorts allowed -- but thinking of all the hiking through the rocks and woods they would be doing that fall week, I insisted it had to be jeans.)

After winning that battle, however, I let her win all the "arguments" as to what type of jeans. I told her I wanted her to wear girl's jeans -- she insisted it had to be boy's jeans, because they were less restrictive. I said the light blue were pretty -- she said regular blue. I said a pair of black jeans would be handy in the future -- she told me she hated black jeans.

We ended up with three pair of boy's blue jeans, including a carpenter pair that she loves because of the pockets and tool strap, and she's now choosing to wear them to school instead of shorts... at least when it's below forty.

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