10 tips on how to deal with kids not wanting to dress

There comes a time in any child’s development when they refuse to get dressed or want to wear just specific items. This can be a difficult battle for parents, as they want their children to be dressed appropriately for the occasion and weather but don’t want to force them into clothing they don’t want to wear. In this article, we will give you some tips on how to deal with this situation. Keep reading for more information!

That is just a phase

You are not a bad parent if your little one doesn’t want to get dressed in the morning or throws a tantrum every time you suggest appropriate clothing. Most likely they are just going through a phase where they want to express themselves and they are not yet clear on why you are pushing him or her to wear pants or a dress when a pajama is perfectly comfortable. Learning about this world and our society’s rules takes time and at first, for a little boy or a girl, it all may seem just illogical.

Here we have compiled 10 ideas on how to help a little person get dressed and how you might get over this phase in long term.

1. Let them choose

It’s simple. Maybe your little one doesn’t want to get dressed because he or she doesn’t like the clothes you have picked out. Even if you picked them out together yesterday, maybe today they have a different mood and they don’t resonate with the ensemble anymore.

So to get them dressed, offer them a few appropriate options they can wear. It is wise to use the “this or that” technique and don’t overwhelm the kid by putting him or her in front of the closet and saying ”Just choose what you like!”. All the options will be too much for your child and you will get nowhere.

Instead, pick two pairs of pants and ask which ones. Do the same with a shirt, jumper, and even socks. Give your kid no more than two options to choose from. That way they still will like they are making the decision, but you have controlled the whole process and helped them wear something sensible and appropriate.

2. Make it a game

Kids love a good game. A dressing game might be, for example, a dressing race – who can get dressed up faster? It would work especially well with siblings of similar age.

You can also start dressing their teddy bear instead of them. A kid will intervene and want you to dress him. You can make a deal that you dress the kid and the kid can then dress the teddy bear.

You can also try putting on clothes that are inside out. That will surely make them giggle and most likely they will protest and will want to show you how it is correctly done. When you try this approach, just be sure to be ok with your kids walking with clothing inside out just in case they don’t mind it at all.

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3. Challenge them with goofy ideas

Similar to adding play to dressing up, you can do something goofy with the clothes to get your child interested in getting ready for the day. Start dressing yourself up with your kid’s clothes but put them on the wrong way. Put undies on your head, pants on your arm, and socks as gloves. Surely, the kid will find it amusing and wrong and will want to teach you how it is correctly done. Be sure to not really believe them until they show you how the items are rightly worn.

4. Let them experience inappropriate clothing but have a backup with you

Sometimes it is fine to let them show their spirit by wearing what they want. If the clothing they want to wear is somewhat appropriate (for example, not a swimsuit in the winter) let them go with it. Let them go out without a scarf or a hat, or just in a jumper when it is winter, or wearing their thickets jacket in the middle of the summer. Of course, do this to the extent that is not harmful to your child, there are some boundaries that need to be respected for their own good.

Often, when a child experiences how cold it is without a hat or how hot it is in a thick jumper during summer, they learn one of the reasons for wearing clothes – to be dressed appropriately for the weather.

Just be sure you have some backup clothes in your bag that you can casually offer to your offspring. For example, if it is getting really hot in that big jumper, you can casually mention that you have a summer dress with you if your girl wants to change. Just be sure not to push it, let the child choose for himself/herself.

5. Lure them in by having clothes with their favorite cartoon characters

If your child is going through, for example, the Frozen phase, no doubt they will be excited to wear clothing with Elsa or Olaf. Maybe they have a phase for a different cartoon. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to secure some items with their favorite characters. If you cannot find anything in the shops, an option is to have them printed on demand. Just find a local shop or a print on demand supplier on the internet. Maybe that is even better – this way you can get on the t-shirt exactly the character that your child loves the most from the cartoon.

6. Wanting to dress just like their older brother or sister? Get them a matching item!

Kids are all about copying – that is the way how they learn the best. They play out adult situations and relationships they have seen, they learn behavior by observing and copying people around them and they love dressing like the important people in their lives – maybe like parents and maybe like older siblings.

If your older sibling is fine with that, you can get your kids a matching item. For example, a t-shirt with the same print. If you cannot find anything in the shops, you can always custom print it. Just find a print on demand supplier that carries children and teenager shirts or bring your own to your local printing shop.

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If you are searching the internet, we suggest checking out printseekers.com. They have child-size t-shirts, great print quality, and excellent customer service. And they can fulfill orders really fast!

The print can be something subtle or it can even be just similar but in the same color and feel. Your little one will definitely appreciate it. The older kid doesn’t even need to wear the shirt often, just from time to time. It might be even enough to say to your little one: “Let’s wear the shirt you and your brother both own!”. That will give him or her the idea that they are dressing like their older sibling but your older child doesn’t have to take part in it at all.

If you don’t want to go for exactly the same item, you can also try to match clothes in color, shape, or style. Just make sure to point out how good your child looks when they wear the clothes of people they admire! On the contrary, what grownups might think, it will boost your kid’s confidence and will help him or her find their own voice later in life.

7. Make sure the clothes are comfortable

Sometimes the reason why kids don’t want to get dressed is because the clothes you want them to wear are not comfortable and they just don’t know how to express it, so they say they don’t want to get dressed at all.

To be sure, ask your kid why he or she doesn’t want to get dressed. If you don’t get a direct answer, try asking: “Do any of your clothes make you feel uncomfortable/scratchy/painful?

Even if you just suspect, that is because your kid finds clothes uncomfortable, try adding some extra soft items to their wardrobe. For example, fleece jumpers, and t-shirts with the stitching outside so the inside is smooth. Look for clothes that have loose collars and remove the tags, so there is nothing rubbing against your kid’s skin.

8. Use an incentive

To get your kiddo dressed in the morning try using the “first do this, then you can play” technique. For example, if they really want to watch a cartoon or play with cars, just say they will have a play or watch time after getting dressed. That will also motivate your kid to do it quickly, so they can get to the activity they enjoy.

9. Last resort – distraction

If you really have to get ready and your kid just won’t budge, use the modern technologies and distract your kid with a cartoon or a TV show they enjoy. We agree, that it is not perfect, but desperate times need desperate measures. You can also use a game or anything else that might work as a distraction instead of TV.

10. Start a conversation about appropriate clothing for the occasion

To educate your child on the social norms and rules just start a casual conversation about what people are wearing for what occasion. For example, when dad is getting ready for work, point out to the kid that he is wearing a dress shirt and a tie. But later on, when the family is having fun in the pool, point out that dad is now wearing a bathing suit. Link those together, saying that dad wears a dress shirt to the work but a bathing suit when he is swimming. You can do this by commenting on your own clothes or even observing strangers, and for example, guessing where they might be going based on what they are wearing.


Raising a kid is no easy job even without them having tantrums about everyday dressing up. We hope that at least one of the tips will help you to get your child dressed in the morning faster and you will get to enjoy a nice time together!