my daughter will not change her socks or underwear

(57 Posts)
Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 08:20:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

amillionyears Thu 24-Jan-13 08:24:12

Are there other things that she does that you would consider are outside of the social norms?

drinkyourmilk Thu 24-Jan-13 08:25:52

Maybe the only thing you can do is take her dirty stuff each time she bathes and put straight in the machine.

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 08:25:53

What does she say when you ask her about it?

Bunbaker Thu 24-Jan-13 08:26:52

When she is in the bath/asleep in bed can you not remove the dirty underwear from the bathroom floor and put it with the other dirty washing?

Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 08:27:40

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YDdraigGoch Thu 24-Jan-13 08:27:50

I think you are going to ask her hand over the dirty clothes each night, with perhaps a small reward for doing so. At her age, money would probably be appropriate, then each month or whenever there's enough money in the pot, she could spend it on whatever. She wants. We all need incentives to do something we don't want to do'

No suggestions for an explanation as to why she's doing it though. Have you asked her? What does she say?
Is it the same socks/nix every time, or is the actual pair she does wear irrelevant? I thought perhaps they might be "comfy".

Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 08:29:34

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seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 08:30:14

Why does she say she does it?

Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 08:31:30

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seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 08:32:23

Sorry, I thought you'd missed my question.

Have you been really direct? "Look, Grandpa says your feet are really smelly, and that's because you were wearing dirty socks."

Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 08:32:57

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Homebird8 Thu 24-Jan-13 08:33:29

DS1 (10) does this with socks. He'll keep the same pair forever if I don't pinch them during a shower or by tickling him and stripping them off him to wash. DS2 (8) wears undies five pairs at a time. There's no accounting for either of them.

I second the strategy of disappearing dirty things using any opportunity you have. Does she get upset if you do that? Is it about the undies/socks or is it about attention?

Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 08:36:11

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thewhistler Thu 24-Jan-13 08:38:29

Because they feel soft and warm?

And clean ones feel yukky. And she can't smell them.

That's what many younger children feel about their blankie.

Does she have likes and dislikes about other clothes, labels in clothes, foods? She might be extra sensitive to textures and tastes.

In which case, fabric conditioner and ironing and very soft natural cotton might be the answer. Dunno.

Homebird8 Thu 24-Jan-13 08:39:30

Just a thought. Can she smell? Not everyone has that sense.

amillionyears Thu 24-Jan-13 08:39:33

What do her friends say?
What are her friends like?

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 08:39:57

Ok. There are two things here. There's the why she does it, which is important, but there's also the stopping her. Which you have to do, because otherwise her little friends will start to notice and they won't be as tactful as grandpa.

I would remove her socks and pants every day and wash them. Or at least put them in a bucket of water so they are wet and she can't wear them. Ignore the tantrums- you have to protect her from herself.

I'm not sure what to do about the "why", I'm afraid- maybe somebody more helpful will come along. But you must stop her doing it.

MrsMushroom Thu 24-Jan-13 08:41:29

You need to watch her in the morning still. she's obviously not ready to be left to getting dressed alone yet.

drinkyourmilk Thu 24-Jan-13 08:43:48

The bucket of water is a fab idea!

amillionyears Thu 24-Jan-13 08:44:27

The fact that she is spending 15 minutes doing her hair, is a good thing I think.
She is caring about her appearance.

Maybe she is just being defiant.
Maybe she knows that continually wearing dirty socks and underwear will wind you up.

BIWI Thu 24-Jan-13 08:53:11

Does she have any mental health or other issues that might affect her behaviour?

If not, then I would have to say 'you are in charge, why aren't you dealing with this? It sounds like you are frightened of her!

Personally, I wouldn't tolerate this kind of behaviour. She's only 8, for goodness sake!

When she gets ready for her bath or to go to bed, take them off her, put them straight in the washing machine and don't even talk about it. Don't engage with her on it, so it becomes a non-issue. As when toddlers have tantrums: ignore, ignore, ignore

BoffinMum Thu 24-Jan-13 09:06:43

I bet you it's because she likes the smell, in the same way animals feel at home when it smells right. You need to:

Explain what smells good to her doesn't to others.

Get her to choose her favourite smelling soap powder and fabric conditioner in the supermarket and do her things separately so they smell how she wants them.

Praise her when she smells conventionally acceptable.

purrpurr Thu 24-Jan-13 09:08:01

If it is a defiance thing, when did it start? As you've said, she will do the oddest things in order to not do what you want her to do. Wearing worn underwear over and over is definitely something you don't want her to do, so she keeps doing it. It's one of the more rare windows of opportunity to get into a battle with you on a daily basis. If she'd chosen to not eat a particular food, that food might not be on the menu every week, or if she'd chosen to go nuts over bathing, that's every other day. So by acting out with underwear, she's getting her battle/attention every single day.

You said she's always been your difficult child. Does she ever get any positive attention or is she always in trouble?

Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 09:12:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Thu 24-Jan-13 09:19:49

You have to take them off her. Honestly. You have to be really proactive. As I said, I don't know about the why. But you must not let her do this. Take the dirty ones away at once as she takes them off.

thewhistler Thu 24-Jan-13 09:22:53

Keep her socks in your room, dole them out, and do the bucket of water trick.

But, it does sound as though she is unhappy. Are things ok at school? Are things ok with her sibs? Is she super sensitive ?

Is there a school counsellor ? Children can be completely miserable and don't have the means to explain.

Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 09:23:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

starfishmummy Thu 24-Jan-13 09:25:51

Short of keeping all her socks, clean and dirty, in seperate locked boxes, I don't know what to do. Perhaps I'll do that. But why does she want to wear them? It's crazy.

So maybe not quite that extreme but you need to take control.

Gather up all of her old ones - search the house until you find them all . Then when they are washed you dish out one set, which you take off her when she undresses. These go straight in the wash or as someone suggested a bucket of water so she can't retrieve them. Then you dole out one clean pair.

She will hate you, I'm sure! Once you have started to do this then you can try to tackle the underlying cause!

She sounds a bit unusual TBH to me, I would see the GP and ask about a CAMHS assessment to see if they can help with coping strategies. It sounds very difficult sad

DeepRedBetty Thu 24-Jan-13 09:26:58

I think you need to speak to a Child Mental Health professional.

PeneloPeePitstop Thu 24-Jan-13 09:31:09

I'm thinking she needs to be assessed by CAMHS. I'm not in a position to diagnose obviously but they're very sensory behaviours going on there. Also the ignoring you and fiddling with things is ringing a bell with me too, as is the obsessively doing things over and over again.

My DS who is also nearly 9 has Aspergers and is exactly the same WRT preferring dirty clothing. Not saying this is what it is but an assessment can't hurt.

thewhistler Thu 24-Jan-13 09:31:10

Gosh, poor you.

I have found that whenever Ds is bullying us, and behaving really badly, it is because he is getting it from somewhere else and needs to pass it on.

Otherwise, it might be a sign of mh issues, in which case the sooner identified, the better.

Either way, difficult if you are childminding, I know, but can you go into school and see her teacher and see how things are going? And is there a mum on her class you know and like and trust?

Has this sort of behaviour always been the case, or just for worse for a time?

Skankorama Thu 24-Jan-13 09:34:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

badtemperedaldbitch Thu 24-Jan-13 09:39:59

I'd follow all the advice others have given but take it one step further. I'd get a pair of her old smelly socks and sew them together so they absolutely can't be washed. Then I'd let her keep them like a comforter.

Maybe she isn't hearing....you need clean clothes
Maybe she's hearing....you arnt good enough

Tell her there is a time and a place for everything. Let her wear her socks all weekend, but fresh ones for school.

amillionyears Thu 24-Jan-13 09:43:08

Agree with others posts on here.

I am just wondering whether she finds it difficult constantly having other children in the house.
Maybe she really hates it, but doesnt quite know why, and cant therefore really express it.

And whether she is using the socks and underwear issue, so that you have to spend more of your time ,looking at and dealing with her.

Just a thought. I could be wrong.

ClaraBean Thu 24-Jan-13 09:45:53

I am afraid I don't know anything about child MH, so can offer no advice, but I just wanted to say ds is a bit like this. He is quite difficult (when with me, better when with dh) and bickers eeennndddlessly with his sister, and quite mouthy. I struggle with him, though he is lovely a lot of the time, he is like the girl with the girl in the middle of her forehead!

Anyway, last year when he was 9 he did the same thing with pants and socks, hiding clean pants and socks between his bed and the wall. Drove me nuts. In the end we said to him if he can't get dressed like a big boy, we will have to treat him like a toddler, and we handed him clothes and underwear every morning, and then checked he had changed his pants and socks. Every morning. It broke the habit eventually (but it took a while). He also knows that we will still do a random check now and again (because he slipped back into it when we stopped the checking) Seems to have worked well with ds, as he is desperate to be responsible and 'grown up'.

Hope things get better for you and dd

PriscillaLydiaSellon Thu 24-Jan-13 09:53:15

We've had some of this with DS - though he does have AS (not trying to suggest your DD has this: just giving it some context in our particular case). The tantrums, screaming, stamping etc etc are all sadly familiar. He did have a phase of hiding dirty pants (slightly different issue there), and another of insisting on wearing the same smelly socks. I did calmly explain why people need to change their socks, but he wouldn't have it. Eventually I took to removing them from his feet while he was asleep. He didn't bother to get them out of the washing basket (simply ranting at me instead); if he had done, I'd have been very grateful for the bucket of water tip!

TinkBelle Thu 24-Jan-13 09:58:25

I have some experience of child mental health issues and I would just add that if you have ANY concerns that your d might have an underlying issue, no matter how frightening it seems to you to bring this up with your doctor, please do so. If there is a problem then CAMHS will support and offer strategies, if there isn't then at least you have tried all avenues to support her - and yourselves. Hang on in there and take care.

HecateWhoopass Thu 24-Jan-13 10:02:45

Mine have the potential to be like this if left to their own devices! In their case, they both have autism - same as pricscilla, I am not suggesting your child does!

I think it is the difference in the way that worn things feel compared to just washed stuff, in their case.

My youngest is particularly bad for it. I let him get changed after school into his outfit. Which will be the same thing he's been wearing every day after school for a month! Because it helps him and it doesn't matter.

However. If he's got to go out then it's washed body and clean clothes! and school - clean, clean clean.

I think seeker had a great idea with the bucket. That's what I'd do. Physically remove the dirty items and put them into the bucket. you cannot let her go to school in dirty socks and pants and you have to do whatever it takes to stop this from happening.

And you should also experiment with ways to make the clean stuff feel more like the dirty stuff, if this is a sensory issue. This may mean not using a perfumed washing powder. Tumble drying instead of hanging on the line (if you do. line stuff gets stiff) crumpling the clean stuff up so it isn't folded and neat and looking like clean stuff grin

GobblersSparklyExplodingKnob Thu 24-Jan-13 10:05:43

I think you need a CAMHS asessment, she sounds quite troubled and it is obviously making you unhappy.

FWIW my old boss had the same problem with her husband but with all of his clothes shock every so often she would buy him new things and then sneakily steal his old stuff when he was asleep and burn it in the garden, had to be burnt as he would happily retrieve it from the dustbin and put it back on and it was always waaaaaay beyond washing. Most of the time he would sleep in it to stop her, he literally never changed his clothes and never washed. Was a university lecturer too, I used to feel so sorry for his students. The times I met him you could smell him a mile off, it was sickening.

WowOoo Thu 24-Jan-13 10:17:56

Have you tried not having a battle about it? Letting her wear them?
What happens then?

Maybe it won't be so appealing or she'll realise herself or from a friend that it is a bit skanky to wear the same knickers for weeks.

I have no advice at all, it must be so hard.

CajaDeLaMemoria Thu 24-Jan-13 10:22:22

My sister did the exact same thing, down to smuggling dirty socks and underwear out to put back on, and the huge tantrums.

CAMHS suggested one wear underwear. Weird paper stuff. We bought it online and had to cut them up after each day so she wouldn't go in the bin for them. We'd do it when she got into her pyjamas, and then get out a new pair for the next day. At the start we let her sleep in tomorrow's pair if she wanted. We worked up to her cutting them up.

It might be worth a try? Let me know if you want more detail of info. I hope this helps, it's so stressful.

adoptmama Thu 24-Jan-13 10:27:21

Some children behave in this way for very disturbing reasons (such as having been abused; they use the poor hygiene as a way of making themselves 'undesirable'.) Other times it is because of mental health issues. It can be sensory (disliking the feeling of new/clean clothes) although if this has been a recent development in her behaviour it is unlikely to be sensory. It may be a simple - and very yucky phase - which some blunt talking will sort out. But it may not be. I would say that it would help you to discuss her behaviours and issues with a professional so that you can judge better whether you have a serious problem or not.

BoffinMum Thu 24-Jan-13 11:18:37

There's something called a CREST typology of temperament developed by Prof Peter Hill, a leading Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist - it stands for Cognitively Rigid, Egocentric, Socially Awkward and Tempestuous.

He recommends the strategies in the book 'The Explosive Child" by Greene, which works in some cases.

It strikes me that reading the book isn't going to do any harm in this instance, and a visit to the GP may also be in order in case there is the possibility of a referral later on, for some kind of CBT for your daughter.

BoffinMum Thu 24-Jan-13 11:19:27
5madthings Thu 24-Jan-13 11:28:20

I was coming to say what adopt mama said.

I think you need to see as go and camhs, she could just be stubborn but her behavior needs addressing to see what could be behind it and to give you some strategies to cope.

seekers idea of taking them off and putting them in a bucket of water is good.

Also speak to school and see if they have concerns etc.

titchy Thu 24-Jan-13 11:41:50

Agree with others suggesting a referral. Is it just underwear, or all clothes?

Also your title is misleading - it's not that she won't change underwear, it's that she actively seeks out dirty underwear.

PhyllisDoris Thu 24-Jan-13 13:11:39

It does sound like a control/defiance thing.
1. Explain to her that people have said that she smells, and that anyway her habits are not healthy.
2. Tell her you are going to insist on fresh socks/underwear everyday from now on (maybe work on one thing at a time?). Pick a start date, so she has time to mentally prepare herself - eg, "I'm starting Monday"
3. Don't engage in any further conversation about it - at 9 she won't have the vocabulary to explain why she does this, even if she knows why herself.
4. Don't negotiate - you are the adult
5. Take away all her knickers and socks, and give her a fresh pair each day, and demand the dirty ones back at bed time. And yes, lock the dirty ones up if necessary, or burn them, or whatever.
6. There will be tantrums, but walk away from them. Not easy to do, but be consistent.
7. Offer both small short term rewards and larger long term rewards but be sure these are something that will really engage her. (Offer really big ones if necessary - it will be worth the money). Maybe even start with asking her to keep clean clothes on for a couple of hours only, and work up from there. Perhaps you could concentrate on knickers only, or socks only for the initial period, and up the stakes and reward after a while.
8. Be consistent. Pick a system and stick with it for at least a couple of months.

None if this is easy - but remember that as the adult you have the control over her life - it doesn't work the otherway round.

Ineedmorepatience Thu 24-Jan-13 17:04:38

My Dd3 is also quite happy wearing dirty clothes, she has ASD and has lotsnof sensory issues.( again not suggesting your dd has asd)
My Dd3 is particularly bad at changing her vest, she loves her vest especially well worn.

I give her a clean one everyday and I find them hidden usually under her pillow or down the side of her bed. I let her go a couple of days and then Instand over her and watch her change.

She doesnt actively seek dirty ones though. I think I would be looking at speaking to an HCP.

Good lucksmile

er1507 Thu 24-Jan-13 22:11:46

My 13yr old brother is EXACTLY the same. Not just with socks and underwear mind but with all his clothes. He has asperges and its a real struggle to even get him in the shower! He prob goes in twice a week if we're lucky. he knows his white socks are black but his sensory problems mean that putting on a new clean pair of socks is just too much for him, he even had to wear them inside out because he can't bear the seem that runs along the toes. His communication skills are poor, he genuinely forgets that you have told him something a million times because who's brain is processing other things.

Not saying your dd has asperges or anything similar but maybe she shouts and screams because she doesn't know how to communicat to you why she does it. She might be a bit embarrassed by it herself.

QOD Thu 24-Jan-13 22:22:19

Could it just be attention seeking ? You mentioned you childmind?
Like the laying on the sofa with a snack seems to be?

fackinell Thu 24-Jan-13 22:47:44

OP, to me it sounds a lot like Obsessional Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I have had this and still do to an extent although I can largely control it. It is a neurosis (sufferers are aware of their behaviour unlike a psychosis in which they are unaware). Mine manifested itself in the form of repetitive behaviour and rituals.

Very personal but I don't mind sharing. (In no way am I insinuating this is the case in your home, just giving you background). I had a violent Father who attempted to kill my mother several times. I asked her after we got away what her favourite number was, she replied,
'3, because there are 3 of us now'. This started a cycle of me having to do everything in 3s, along with a hand washing obsession and nervous tics. To me this was a protection. I would get extremely distressed if it was intervened in any way.

It can be a rational or an irrational fear. Bullying at school? Maybe if she wears her pants and socks one day and it doesn't happen, they become 'safe'.

I'm only guessing of course but it sounds a lot like me at 7 years old. I agree with GP referral to a MH professional.

thewhistler Thu 24-Jan-13 23:00:53

Just to say, that if everything is normal , Ds hates changing his socks and quite a few boys go through a yukky stage. But worth thinking about unhappiness and the camhs ref.

Percephone Fri 25-Jan-13 00:05:01

You don't mention any other difficulties. Is everything ok otherwise? Normal development and social interaction? School going well?

I don't think she needs CAMHS unless there are other issues you haven't mentioned. This has become a bad habit which needs to be broken. I agree with Seeker - you need to take them from her and make sure she can't get them back. If you say you're going to do it then follow it through otherwise she'll know she can avoid it by creating a scene. Please don't be offended, but have you thought of trying a parenting course? CAMHS would likely suggest this. However if there are other problems then it might be worth discussing with your GP.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Fri 25-Jan-13 00:19:31

My friend DD used towear the same knickers for ages at the same type of age. There were no MH issues whatsoever and she grew out of it. Her parents are real neat freaks and I wondered if she was reacting against it.
My friend was irritated by her DD doing this but apart from nagging her a bit didn't do much. Her DD wasn't dirty and didn't smell though.

MyHeadWasInTheSandNowNot Fri 25-Jan-13 00:23:01

My niece (8 - almost 9) is a bit like this at the moment. Complete soap dodger and would put dirty pants/socks back on after a bath/shower if she could, although wouldn't go to the effort to get them out of the laudry basket - but would like through her back teeth saying she had clean ones on (even though the socks are filthy etc). She's also very shouty/huffy/sulky/emotional. She would do the piano thing. We are mostly putting it down to hormones. They think the world of her at school and describe a child we don't recognise grin

She's always been hard work, she's the eldest and is ME ME ME ME ME.

She can be lovely, thoughtful, sweet, kind... but a lot of the time she's bloody trying!

We are putting it all down to hormones!

So - poor you - you have such a variety of answers! I hope one (or several) helps.

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