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Worried! Daughter refusing to undress

(20 Posts)
user1495691496 Thu 25-May-17 07:11:58

I'm having concerns about my 4 year old daughter. She's a bright, happy, fun girl with a super sense of humour. She has certain medical needs after being diagnosed with an intestinal issue a couple of years back which means she's on a fair bit of medication as well as regular injections and bloods which she's not too happy about but she takes it all in her stride (I don't think the two are connected but I thought I'd mention it).

For what seems like forever now she has worn a vest but she seems a little self-conscious when getting undressed.

In the last couple of months - any attempt to remove the vest has led to a complete emotional breakdown and baths are cut short as she wants to get that vest back on as quick as she can. When we do remove the vest, she holds her arms over her chest so tightly and sort of whimpers. We've chatted to both our girls (she has an older sister - 7 yrs) about keeping covered up in a safeguarding sense but I'm not sure it's this.

She's told me she wants to wear a vest because she likes it but at times she's hinted that she's worried that people can 'see her' so at the moment she's wearing a vest all of the time under her clothes. She won't wear a swimsuit without a vest, she wants to shower with her vest on, she wants a vest under her pyjamas, she wants to wear a vest all the time even on the hottest days. She won't wear a vest top either without something over the top and if I suggest a cardigan, she buttons it all the way up. She has little energy with her condition anyway but with the warm weather the last couple of days I've noticed she's 'sweating' and you can tell the heat is getting to her.

She attends a nursery 3 days a week and she pretty much spends the rest of the time with me. She seems to love nursery and comes back with lots of happy stories about what she's done that day.

I'm just worried something more may be going on here - I just don't know what to do.

RoganJosh Thu 25-May-17 07:16:38

What did you say exactly when you spoke to her about keeping covered up? - "We've chatted to both our girls (she has an older sister - 7 yrs) about keeping covered up in a safeguarding sense ".
At first glance that would be the reason, but you obviously know all the details.

Yayne Thu 25-May-17 07:24:21

Hard to know for a bunch of strangers. Something of the sort you are probably thinking about might have happened but equally, 4-year olds have a lot of magical thinking. When they feel a bit insecure - for example due to a cognitive growth spurt where they suddenly realise that bad things can happen and people can die - they often have an object that becomes of special importance, almost like a talisman. That can be a cuddly toy or blanket but can be fairly random things too like a vest.

Just see how she is otherwise. If there's something sinister, you'll likely (not always) see other typical behaviour changes. If it's developmental then it should resolve in another month or two.

blueskyinmarch Thu 25-May-17 07:25:33

It sounds to me like the vest is some sort of comfort or security for her. Armour against the medical intrusions perhaps? I don’t think it indicates anything suspicious. I am a child protection trained social worker if that is where your fears are heading and this behaviour doesn’t raise any concerns for me.

user1495691496 Thu 25-May-17 07:28:28

I think maybe I've expressed it how I would see it rather than how they would see it. There's been times where my older daughter has come out of the bath and come downstairs only to parade herself in front of our living room window (not on purpose smile. I told them both that mummy and daddy don't care about seeing her wiggling her bum about but people we don't know would probably rather not. This led on to us telling them both that only people of the same family should be seeing each other naked, not complete strangers and if anyone ever asked them to do that, to tell us.

user1495691496 Thu 25-May-17 07:30:07

Thank you smile

Empireoftheclouds Thu 25-May-17 07:33:44

This led on to us telling them both that only people of the same family should be seeing each other naked, not complete strangers and if anyone ever asked them to do that, to tell us. You realise you have told your children it is ok for family members to see them naked confused and only to tell if it's a stranger who asks anything of them? I realise you meant well, but maybe it would be wise to consider the amount of children who are abused by family members, it's far higher than abuse by strangers.

At 4&7 I would have just said get something on

Anditstartsagain Thu 25-May-17 07:39:57

My son went through a phases if not liking being naked having loved being naked before at 4.5 almost a year later he's coming out if it. For him it was every time he got undressed he would say don't look at me (i ended up totally paranoid about not looking at him). His started when he started school and they started changing into p.e kits in the class room he's gradually gotten used to it. I just respected the fact he was feeling shy but explained sometimes mummy needs to look for getting him washed but I promised thats the only time I would look.

user1495691496 Thu 25-May-17 07:45:21

I joined Mumsnet only this morning. I don't normally ask for advice online or from strangers as 1. As a parent it's my job to find my own way of parenting and I usually cope just talking through it with my husband and 2. There are always people online who won't be there to help, just criticise - I think for most people who spend their time online - that's their sole purpose. However, I'm concerned about my little girl and I was hoping someone had experienced something similar whether it be psychological, development or otherwise.

I know what I said and they know what I mean (our family being the four of us - we don't have anyone else) - this is not my concern. I'm just attempting to be the best parent I can be.

Empireoftheclouds Thu 25-May-17 07:54:50

I made an observation, wasn't intended to criticise, but what you said goes against all child protection guidance. It raised a red flag, if you want to take that as a criticism then so be it, the intention was safety though.

user1495691496 Thu 25-May-17 08:58:25

Ok point taken - I didn't want to go into any more detail and I didn't think it was necessary but unfortunately both mine and my husbands parents have passed away - he has a brother but we only see him at Christmas so our family are the people who live in our house. Has what I've said about only family seeing her naked had an effect on her not wanting to wear a vest do you think? (I'm meaning the specific point you've brought up about family... not the 'safeguarding' chat in general). I understand you're trying to be helpful with my original question smile

Lostinaseaofbubbles Thu 25-May-17 09:16:31

My 4yo boy has developed an obsession with socks and is very reluctant to remove his socks at all (muttering about cold feet - even in the heat last night under his duvet. He had a howling tantrum at the suggestion he might wish to not wear socks).

It may not be anything worrying. 4yos can be very strange creatures.

user1495691496 Thu 25-May-17 09:22:08

Thank you - I was kind of hoping it was just a phase but it's upsetting to see her upset.

Lostinaseaofbubbles Thu 25-May-17 09:34:32

I'd say, keep an eye, it's not harming anyone. It's not that bad a foible. Try to find lightweight layers to go over the top of the vest and try not to let her know you're worried about it.

Let it be the last thing she takes off as she gets into the bath and be able to see the clean one ready to go on as soon as she gets out and just run with it.

Like others have said, she may simply view it as a wearable comforter.

user1486956786 Thu 25-May-17 12:13:15

I think it sounds a bit like a comforter. I had a blanket and teddies I had to hold all the time. Now an adult I still cannot sleep unless I'm cuddling something (or wasted).

I'd leave her to it and not make a thing about it. I think she will grow out of it, particularly at school down the track when she realises other girls don't wear them.

Paperclipmover Thu 25-May-17 20:29:43

I think I'd play along for a while. Chose your battles and maybe this isn't important enough to be one of them? It's a vest...

Get her loads of vests, let her wear them whenever she wants. You can have some provisos such as they must be changed at least once a day, or whatever you go with. Get baggy ones so she can bath in the things if she likes.

Then leave it alone, don't make a deal of it.

Now of course I'm hoping that she either gets over it and/or it doesn't get in the way of life.

I had serious breast surgery and I feel odd without my vest. I can and do go without for bathing and swimming but even on hot days I like to wear one. I can take it off and have done on the last few hot days BUT it was weird. I'm a good deal older than 4 so can talk myself round.,

Good luck with it all

Didiplanthis Thu 25-May-17 23:00:45

My ds wore a wooly hat day and night, in the bath etc for a few months aged 4. He got really upset if he didn't have it. It just kind of settled down. Still don't know what it was about.

NotCitrus Thu 25-May-17 23:11:19

Sounds like a comfort thing. My kids went through a phase of wanting to take Daddy's socks off his feet and take one each to bed! Ds is still insisting on wearing his coat and dd gloves despite 26 degrees, as they get 'cold'.

LovingLola Thu 25-May-17 23:15:00

Is it just one particular vest she is attached to or is it any vest?

MrsELM21 Thu 25-May-17 23:15:46

Oh bless her, I think it's ok, 4 year olds are funny little things, DS went through a phase of this with his coat and even slept with it in his bed for a while.

I'd just go with it for now, embrace the vest! I suspect as with most things 'it's just a phase, this too will pass'

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