Struggle to get dressed? Why do children get naked

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Struggle to get dressed? Why do children get naked

Why does my three-year-old son seem to have no problem keeping his shoes on to go out but then, when he gets home, he can't get through the door that has already taken them off? Why do some children refuse to get dressed in the morning? And why does it seem that there are children who, regardless of the season, consider tank top and panties as the only clothing suitable for staying at home? How can we prevent similar behaviors from becoming pathological?

The doctor Mariolina Ceriotti Migliarese, child neuropsychiatrist, psychotherapist and author of several books on the subject of the family talks about it with us to help us find answers, and helps us to understand the importance of reading each situation in its context and connecting it to the specific moment of the development of our children.

In this article

  • Rejection as the first expression of the infantile will
  • When the problem becomes pathological
  • Possible solutions

Why do children get naked? Rejection as the first expression of the infantile will

Personality and des.

Doing quick internet searches, it turns out that there are many parents worried about their kids' trouble staying dressed in the house, and many others who engage in merciless struggles every morning when it comes time to dress up their little ones.

To read these behaviors, it is first of all necessary to ask who is and how a child between the ages of two and five thinks.

From the age of two and a half / three, children begin to manifest a first affirmation of their identity. It is the time, known to all parents, where the baby's keywords are I, no, mine, crucial words for growth, even if they make our child a stubborn little rebel. It is the moment in which the child tries to affirm his will by contrasting it with that of his parents, and this manifests itself in many fields, ranging from food, to clothing, to brushing his teeth, to sleep ".

"Pretending to choose for himself what he wants and opposing the will of the adult are therefore the physiological manifestation of a developmental step at this age, and it is up to us parents to face it in the best way to prevent it from turning into an overbearing and tyrannical way . "

A "protest" against the rhythms of too intense life imposed by adults?

Children are always a lot context sensitive of life and what happens around them; their reactions and their behaviors must therefore also be read in relation to this. The thought of children of this age is also a very concrete thought: "For such a young child, dressing in the morning means getting ready to go out and go to kindergarten; being in pajamas, underwear or without shoes, on the other hand, means staying at home, as it is done in the days when there is no kindergarten and maybe not even the work of mum and dad. Unfortunately then in the morning parents are often in a hurry, a legitimate hurry but not understandable to their children, who would like slower times and a more serene atmosphere. I wonder if the vagaries in dressing (so characteristic in today's children) could not also be a form of resistance to our anxiety; a kind of "protest" through which they tell us that they do not want to follow us in the our rhythms so intense and not suited to their needs. They are a very concrete "complaint", at an age in which the child is unable to mediate and tries to impose his will against that of the adult ".

This kind of deso of our little ones can also manifest itself in other ways: "There are, for example, children who like to have their mothers take off their shoes as soon as they come home from work: it's a way of saying something like" Now you are at home and you stay at home, you don't go out again ", to make them understand their desire to be together".

Read also: Taking off shoes at home, that's why it is useful for children (and for health)

When the problem becomes pathological

The pathology is in the situation, not in the behavior.

"According to the hypothesis I made, rather than about pathological behavior it would be better to talk about a difficult situation that generates behaviors that are difficult to manage. All behaviors have a communicative value: to improve the relationship with our children we must try to make sense to their behavior, even when it disturbs us; only in this way will we be able to act in the best way. in which it is not possible to dissolve them, giving them a communicative value ".

Children are not as reasonable as adults.

At the root of these problems there is also the tendency of many parents to treat children as if they were little adults, without having clear the depth of the difference in thought between an adult and a child, even if intelligent and gifted with a good ability. of language. "Too often we talk to kindergarten children as if we have little adults with whom we can reason almost on an equal footing. For this reason we negotiate everything with them, trying to convince them of the reasonableness of what we propose. In practice, For example, let's think that the right thing to do is to explain to a three or four year old child (who doesn't want to get dressed) all the reasons why he should do it: we're late, it's cold outside ... And so on. In short, we count on the reasonableness of our interlocutor, who on the contrary, precisely due to the characteristics of his age, is anything but reasonable; this attitude of constant bargaining gives the child the idea that his and our opinion of him have the same weight, and reinforces him in the tug-of-war he has engaged with us; everything turns into a question of power: ours against his ".

Wall to Wall: Young children are better than adults.

The fundamental thing is not to engage in a clash of forces because in this kind of confrontation the adult is faced with only two possibilities: that of giving in (leaving the child with the feeling of being stronger than his parents and therefore also less protected by them) or to get to punish him (then feeling guilty).

"When the relationship with children becomes embedded in this type of dynamic, it becomes difficult to get out of it. On the educational level, we must move with a clear understanding of our goals: this is the meaning of the word. firmness, which does not mean hardness or severity, but only conviction. In relation to the age of the children we can then implement various strategies that allow us to reach our result and which are almost always prevention strategies ".

Read also: The child always says no: how to deal with the oppositional phase?

Possible solutions

To cope with a problem you need to know it.

If the fight to get dressed is always in the morning, maybe our son is really protesting because he doesn't want to go out or why the way we dress him is nervous and rushed. "Perhaps it is better then to take a little more time: if our schedule is flexible, we dedicate a quieter time to the moment of the morning, to greetings, to cuddles, to breakfast together. For the child to arrive at the kindergarten quietly and separate well from their parents is a very important thing; they will not notice if, to recover the time, we collect it half an hour later: luckily the children do not read the clock and if they are playing quietly they will not notice the difference ".

The distractors.

Giving good habits is much easier than correcting bad habits, and for a child up to the age of four or five we can count on many simple tricks to train good habits. At this age almost everything can turn into a game, even getting dressed. Children, for example, like challenges and competitions; they love to count the time it takes to get dressed and set records.

But if the challenge begins, strategies are possible to avoid the confrontation. Among these, in the age we are talking about, the fundamental one is to resort to distraction, drawing his attention elsewhere: "To resolve the impasse it is useful use useful strategies without getting into a fight. Think of a child who is getting angry as a sort of moving train; we cannot stop a moving train with our hands, but we can learn to operate the switch. We must take the child to another terrain without starting an exhausting and useless negotiation and shift his attention to something that interests him ".

The choice.

It is also very important to pay attention to the way we address children. If we ask for example "Honey do you want to dress up?" we let him understand that you really do have a choice between a yes and a no. But if we ask: "Do you want to wear the red or the blue shirt?" we train the child to make small choices and at the same time we avoid getting into trouble: precisely because of the way his thinking works, the child will be induced to give a specific answer and this will prevent him from saying "I don't want to get dressed". For children of this age it is necessary to learn to choose, but the possible choice is always between only two elements: if you open the wardrobe and ask them what they want to take, instead, only confusion and disorientation is generated ".

The interviewee

Mariolina Ceriotti Migliarese she is a child neuropsychiatrist, psychotherapist and author of several books on the subject of the family, couple life and the world of affectivity. Among these, we remember in particular "Dear doctor ... Answers to imperfect families" (Ed. Ares) built with the answers to the many questions posed by parents struggling with the complexity of the relationship with their children.

  • children education
  • 3-5 children years
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