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6year old keeps sneaking off to wear sisters clothes

(25 Posts)
yesnomaybe Sun 07-Oct-12 20:26:37

My 'textbook boy' son i.e. loves nerf guns, plays gender typical games like knights, spiderman, fighting (!), very sporty as loves his footy, rugby, cricket etc, properly sports mad, popular at school, has for the last week been caught 3 times in his sisters pink clothes. His sister is 3,5years and very girly, loves ballet etc. I got suspicious when he went missing and would come running downstairs when called, bright red and re-dressing himself. Followed him the next time and her ballet stuff was in his room with my tights! Asked him about it and he got very defensive and upset and wouldn't open up at all.

Now I thought I was super liberal but I am really upset by this. Not least coz he ripped his sisters new ballet shoes getting his feet in them. It's not so much the dressing up in the girly clothes but the fact he feels he has to sneak around and lie about it.

Today he made some excuse about needing to change his T-shirt so DH said he'd check on him. Caught him in my pop socks and DD's play heels.
What should we do? Ignore it? Is it a phase? I have been very laid back about it to him and we keep telling him we love him but he's so young it's hard to know how to deal with it. Anyone else experienced this?

BoysBoysBoysAndMe Sun 07-Oct-12 21:31:36

My ds1 sounds like your boy-but without the dressing up-iyswim.

So if my ds1 started doing it, I'd sit with him and ask him what he was doing, explaining that there is nothing wrong with wanting to try his sisters clothes on, you just want him to tell you the truth.

Very calm. Very blasé about it. Not making a fuss.

I would approach it with him though and make him aware he can discuss it with you so he doesn't feel uncomfortable and embarrassed if caught.

Open and honest and relaxed. No telling off or 'it's for girls' type conversation.

yesnomaybe Sun 07-Oct-12 21:48:47

Thank you for your advice. I'll try that. Feel really depressed about it for some reason, it's come out of no where and is so unlike him!

BoysBoysBoysAndMe Sun 07-Oct-12 22:08:04

Bless him. Our ds1 is 6 this month and its such a funny age for them I think.

Not babies, not little boys, not big boys-they're just in between.

I understand what's upset you though, completely.

Good luck and I hope he opens up to you. Let me know how you get on

steppemum Sun 07-Oct-12 22:09:58

when ds was 3 he asked me to make him a twirly skirt, so I did, and he wore it and twirled. He used to love jewellry and my heels as well. A couple of years later he was too self aware to wear it, but I think he would still have liked a twirl. My friends son used to make a beeline for the tutu in the dressing up box at toddler group right up until he started school.

My guess is that he knows it is a bit unusual, and is embarrassed, but most likely he is experimenting, probably a couple of years after his contemporaries. Or he has seen something which has peeked his curiosity.

I always think that allowing them to experiment allows them to work through some things and then it passes.

I would have a word, mainly to ask him about it, very low key. And then to say it is fine for him to do it, and to suggest things he can use (dressing up clothes or stuff that doesn't matter if tried on), and things he can't use - ballet shoes because he is breaking them.

Marne Sun 07-Oct-12 22:16:21

I would try and speak openly about it, i dont think theres anything wrong with it. Its funny because i have a 8 year old dd who likes to dress in boys clothes, play with boys toys and do boy things but it has never really bothered me, there seems to be more stigma when a boy wants to dress in girls clothes but it shouldnt be any different.

Gunznroses Sun 07-Oct-12 22:16:39

^Bless him. Our ds1 is 6 this month and its such a funny age for them I think.

Not babies, not little boys, not big boys-they're just in between^

6yrs is not complicated where he fits, he IS a little boy.

Oldandcobwebby Sun 07-Oct-12 22:16:55

I write as a bloke, sadly without a son, so no direct personal experience of this.

I think that what would upset me is the fact he is embarrassed about it.

I am with BoysBoysBoysAndMe all the way on this.

Minstrelsaremarvellous Sun 07-Oct-12 22:28:34

My nephew (6) often tries on my DD(5)'s clothes, maybe you should ask him if he wants his own set of larger clothes for playing dress up. He'll be reassured then that you're not at all bothered and may be less sneaky. (I think it's the hiding of it that's bothering you more)

steppemum Sun 07-Oct-12 22:35:25

yes I do think if there are things in the dressing up box that will do, then they are more accessible and it is easier to play with them

also dd2 is desperate to play with/try on dd1 ballet stuff and knows it isn't allowed (can't risk it getting damaged as can't afford to replace it) I have once or twice caught her playing with it sneakily.

bigpaws Mon 08-Oct-12 06:45:31

Could he go to ballet classes? (obviously not in a tutu!)

yesnomaybe Mon 08-Oct-12 10:47:19

It is the furtive nature of it that is upsetting us. He crus when we try to talk to him about it, it's really upsetting coz I hate to think of what's going on in his head to make him feel bad.
I'm going to talk to him about it after school today and we are approaching a family friend who is a psychiatrist to see how to handle it.

The last thing I want to do is handle it all wrong & make it worse! Today I intend to just ask him to stop using dd stuff as that's wrong coz he'd be very angry if she went into his stuff!

Thanks for your thoughts x

gussiegrips Mon 08-Oct-12 10:57:28


He's been dressing up for a week, and you are talking to a psychiatrist? I wonder if you are being a wee bit premature here - Halloween is coming!

Tell him off for damaging his sister's stuff. Get him his own tutu and blinged up dressing up stuff. Let him play. Relax. All he needs to know is that you love him, feather boa or no.

AMumInScotland Mon 08-Oct-12 11:06:34

Get a nice big box and fill it with dressing-up clothes of different sorts. Let him know you were cross about his sisters shoes getting damaged but not about him liking different kinds of clothes. Don't bother with a psychiatrist.

What's going on in his head is that he's trying out different things, and his sister's wardrobe is the easiest available source of things he doesn't have himself, like ballet shoes and pink skirts. Give him an easier supply, and take the pressure off.

AMumInScotland Mon 08-Oct-12 11:09:51

Oh and don't keep "trying to talk to him about it" - he won't be able to explain what he feels or why he's doing it, and you'll just make him feel it's a bigger deal than it already is. Lots of boys try on girls clothes or like the different textures and colours. It has no impact whatsoever on what he may be like in later life.

Redsilk Mon 08-Oct-12 11:12:32

Wouldn't worry too much, or put any great value on this. Agree that the main worry is borrowing sis's clothes without permission.

Agree that if you take the mystery away he'll probably lose interest in a few weeks. Making a big deal could have the reverse effect.

Was also going to suggest a communal dressing up box with boys and girls clothes for dd and ds. They can play dressing up together in an anything goes way. Maybe you and dh could join in once or twice to show him there is nothing to be embarrassed about grin

My dd is 6 and sometimes has boys from her class round to play. The first time that a boy visits he usually ends up in a fairy/ princess dress (whilst dd is dressed as a cowboy or pirate or builder etc.) because those clothes have the most novelty value. We don't comment (and usually don't broadcast it to their parents) as dressing up is dressing up. It's all just a bit of fun.

crazygracieuk Mon 08-Oct-12 11:41:18

I have a 6 year old ds, 11 year old ds and 9 year old dd.

At school, ds2 will be hearing messages like pink is for girls and princesses are rubbish but at home he will run around in fairy wings and have nail polish on his toes.
Ds1 and dd often swapped clothes and I've had many boys come round and wear girly dressing up.
I've never felt the need to talk to my kids about it but I can understand that at primary school there are strong views about boys and girls and those in the middle who are confident enough to be themselves are a minority. As a boy in primary conforming usually means running around, like football and disliking stuff associated with girls pink, princesses, glitter.
I think you should get the communal dressing up box and keep the ballet shoes out if reach since 2 of your kids have broken the rules and played with them.

Homebird8 Wed 10-Oct-12 06:08:02

DS2 will be 8 soon and whilst he's never asked for a skirt of his own he has had numerous pairs of tights in pinks and flowery patterns at his own request. He even used to wear them to school under his trousers and when questioned by other children during changing for PE told them he was wearing them to keep his legs warm. He stopped this only when we moved to a warmer country although he wears them at the weekend under shorts.

The first lot of tights were because I offered him a treat for some really great behaviour and every time he's outgrown them there has been a request for more. The current batch got relegated by me from the sock drawer to the dressing up box but seem to have found their way back.

Go with it and buy him some things of his own. If he out grows it, he out grows it and you'll look back maybe with a raised eyebrow and fondly remember this as one of his childhood phases. If he doesn't, well, there's nothing you can do about it but make it a problem. Take both children shopping next time clothes are needed and let them both choose. In the mean time charity shops are a great way of stocking a dressing up box.

Enjoy him. He sounds great and independent and innovative. Tell him that! smile

trockodile Wed 10-Oct-12 06:38:31

I used to nanny for a little boy who loved dressing up and wearing his sister's clothes-I think they were just more interesting for him than his own! After he started school he got into superheroes etc and lost interest.
I agree with free access to a dressing up box and perhaps just discourage anyone from playing with proper clothes-I got annoyed in the end because clean/ironed clothes needed rewashing and after the 'skid marks' incident sister refused to let him wear her pants!
Also perhaps take him shopping and see if you can make his own clothes more interesting-not nec girly but just brighter/more fun/more him? Boys' clothes can be deadly dull!

redadmiralsinthegarden Wed 10-Oct-12 06:41:10

Get him his own dresssing up stuff to wear!

WofflingOn Wed 10-Oct-12 06:54:42

Dressing up box, definitely. He's 6, the reason he's being furtive is because he knows the adults at home would disapprove. You are the only problem that he has.
We had a box, all sorts of bits and bobs from silky scarves and waistcoats, Aladdin-style trousers and combat kit, to belts and swords, along with jewellery.
Both of my two loved dressing up, are you worried he'll catch the gays? confused

yesnomaybe Wed 10-Oct-12 19:16:03

No! Just panicked when he got really defensive & cried when I casually asked what he was doing. Its his embarrassment that bothers me nothing else, he's only 6 & I'm his mum I want him to b able to b himself with me is all. Had interesting chat at school gate out of nowhere & one of the mums spoke about how her son loved wearing her heels. Agree it's a possible phase and I've spoken to him about not messing with his sisters stuff & tearing it but that we'll create a communal box. His face lit up so I'm off to the local charity shop & Primark for pop socks!!

Homebird8 Wed 10-Oct-12 22:09:44

Ooh. Dressing up box shopping. Just the best. Don't forget to get something for you too! I've just picked up a parcel which I think has the 1990s white cowl Kylie dress in it for a party this weekend.

Charity shops are great for hats and handbags and colour matching doesn't matter for a dressing up box. Cheap and cheerful is so much fun!grin

amistillsexy Wed 10-Oct-12 22:21:05

WHen he cried and got defensive, was it due to the fact the clothes were 'girly', or due to teh fact that he was playing with his sister's (expensive!) stuff, and he'd broken some of it?

My DSs would act like that if they'd broken a lego model or something belonging to a brother and got 'caught in the act'. I agree with other posters who say make no issue of it other than the 'stay away if it's not yours' talk, and get a wide variety of dressing up stuff.

For what it's worth, my 3 boys love the feel of anything I wear that's silky...if they ever get to fall asleep in my bed I always find them with my nighty wrapped around them. They would love some high heels, only I don't have any to donate to the dressing up box!

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