I have a 3.5-year-old son. After every two three hours he keeps on crying for changing his clothes.

He only wears the dress clothes which he likes, and doesn't listen if we tell him to wear a different dress.

I don't want to be harsh with him. What to do?


5 Answers 5


At that age kids like to wear different clothes - two of my kids did exactly that: they'd vanish to their room and come back in something entirely different. If he is demanding that you change his clothes for him, make it more of a game, but ask which ones he'll want for the morning and which ones for the afternoon.

Distraction techniques work as well - generally children don't have the longest attention span, so finding something more exciting for them can be a good distraction.

At the end of the day, it isn't a problem, and my kids grew out of it after a while.

Let him play - it's fun now, but will get boring for him eventually.


My son, age 3 1/2, loves to wear costumes. He immediately changes into a costume when he gets home from school everyday and wears if for the rest of the day (he doesn't necessarily play like the character he has become, but he just likes to wear it). In the mornings he is very particular about what he wears (has to be soft and fuzzy) and gets very upset when those clothes are not available. On Saturday he has to wear fancy clothes to synagogue and hates to put them on. (We all change to play clothes after lunch on Saturdays and then he is very happy.) He does not complain about the fancy clothes once they are on, but complains and cries when we put them on him.

This is how we handle it. Saturday morning is a must. During the week we bought him more of the clothes he likes. When he wants to change (in the mornings) he changes himself. When he wants us to change him I am 'busy' as this way I am not encouraging his behavior.

What is wrong with him wearing what he wants (unless it is absolutely necessary)? The only problem with him changing clothes all the time is the laundry, if you have enough clothes does it really matter?

Choose your battles and this one, to me, is not one I would choose.

  • He had 20 dress, he only 9 which he like but i want to use him all dress we have. Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 3:15

To me, this sounds quite normal. Children at this age are experiencing and coping with having their own agency (and along with that testing the limits of it). Choosing what to eat, what to wear, what to play with etc.

Our daughter is now 4 and she has liked to change clothes a few times a day for a while. Mostly after school she might want to change into her favourite (at that moment) dress. It's part of growing up, having an input into what you wear (when reasonable). But also at the weekend if we have been out in the morning she might want to wear something else in the afternoon. She used to cry if she couldn't choose the one she wanted as it was in the wash, but this phase seems to have passed and she now chooses from what is available. (having explained that dirty clothes are yucky etc)

Having said that you do need to set some ground rules and expectations. If he wants to pick his clothes, you must make it clear that if he chooses, then he has to wear them for the whole day (or however long suits your daily/weekend processes).

I know it's also annoying to have bought some clothes that they then refuse to wear. We have had the occasional tantrum over not wearing something that was bought. It's why we don't buy anything expensive without involving her in the process (or just knowing she'd like it)

The crying to get changed is a bit (very midly) worrying though - that's the part of the behaviour I would want to 'modify' for want of a better word. Perhaps tell him that if he wants to get changed he needs to come and tell you, so that you can help him, and that he can get changed on his own.

One other final thought did occur to me - thinking what else might be behind crying after wearing clothes for 3 hours - what if there's something in the detergent/washing process or something that you're using that makes them uncomfortable to wear for more than 3 hours? (maybe he's allergic to certain detergents??). I know he's 3.5 and may not be able to express himself to a greater extent, but have you asked him why he wants to keep changing his clothes? (is there something wrong with what he has on)


Put the dress clothes out of reach, like in your closet. Changing their clothes is how children learn to get dressed. Why not just let them do it? Is it going to hurt them? At the end of the day, mom/pop puts dirty clothes into the laundry and puts clean clothes away. This is not a big deal at all.


From personal experience i am worried that some responses to this type of question could have trouble in the long run.

the behavior does occur in both male and female toddlers of the 2-5 years old range. and in fact there is a YouTuber who vlogs daily with a son about 4 years old... while mom/dad are vloging, he will change his clothes and often be seen in background of vlog going to/from his room and sometimes in a state of undress.... usually his underwear but they will need to be extra vigilant in the editing room just in case there is an accidental child porn clip happening in the background while mom and dad are talking about the blueberry pancakes they had for breakfast... (I really LOLed when they mentioned this happening)

how you handle the behavior can affect the child for the rest of their life due to their brains are learning what is right and wrong while they see your reaction and actions due to this behavior... one mother said "Pick you battles, this isn't one to have a war over" and with the small exception of the risk of a naked kid being posted to youtube, i agree... no harm no foul.

But also be careful to not over indulge. by setting rules the child learns that actions have consequences... one mother had her daughter put the clothes in special hamper placed in the childs room which the mother then placed the clothes back into childs closet and drawers... this is extra work for the mother. if you set rule that the child must put away the removed clean clothes (as another mother mentioned that she did) then the child learns that removing clean clothes has the extra work of putting in their correct place for the next time they want to wear them.

I learned from my father that every tool had a place to be and so if i used a tool without putting it back i got yelled at, (but it was ok if i put it back when done) I also learned that if my mother asked me to do something that she would ask a couple times and then do it herself when i didn't... (still don't like to clean my room, but mom isn't here to do it) :(

don't forget to have the tyke help wash their slightly worn clothes too. when they see that their clothes washing is twice or three times as much due to clean clothes in dirty hamper they will notice they can play more if they change clothes less.

and finally, think about having the tyke "come with" the next time you go to buy clothes... even go to the thrift shop, money to a good cause while the kid gets to say what clothes he will wear. Granted you likely will not find "Sabbath worthy" good clothes at a thrift shop, but for play clothes you will be able to say "you wanted it" and the clothes sizer will be there to be sure that the shirt/pants or skirt/blouse/dress "fits" (or slightly larger for "grow into room")

the extra input may seem a bother but it is more time with your child and their behavior just might be because they want more time with you... they are your pride and joy, why not let them know that you value their opinion, and later when you choose to battle they have experiences where listened to them so they will be more likely to let the battle rest for a better time.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .