Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More
A worried mother sent me an email question about her five-year-old son who likes dolls that look like princesses and, on occasion, likes to wear girl’s clothes. She has two older sons and never encountered this before.
Young children love to play the roles they see their parents and other adults playing. For some children, this includes boys sometimes wanting to wear girls’ clothes. After all, that is what mom does. Also, girl’s clothes seem so much more colorful and fun than the ones that boys wear. In fact some boys want to play with dolls and doll houses.
Many parents become fearful that these boys are on the way to becoming homosexuals or transvestites. In point of fact, youngsters between the ages of approximately two and seven to ten years have a very fluid sense of sexual roles, something that becomes hardened from about age seven onwards. Many believe that we are hard wired to become strongly male or female. That is why there is nothing to worry about if a four- year-old wants to be a princess at Halloween or even to buy a toy associated with girls.
Most mental health experts would agree that the most important factor in a child’s development is that he is happy. In addition, many would agree that raising alarm bells will only frighten the child.
Therapists are Standing By to Treat Your Depression, Anxiety or Other Mental Health Needs
I really like this comment I found from a reader who responded to another mother with the same concern about her six year old boy:
“This child is 6. If what a 6-year-old does is a proper testament to who they will become as an adult, we’d have a lot more crayon-eating bed-wetting running-into-traffic adults than we do as of now. Relax.”
No one can predict whether or not a child will become gay. The fact that they love to play with the toys or dress in the clothes, of the opposite sex has nothing to do with the future. Parents need to be understanding and tolerant of a normal behavior type of play that some kids find entering. I would go so far as to say that a negative, hostile and judgmental attitude toward the child sends the wrong message. This message is that there is something bad about the opposite sex. Particularly for boys, what they can take away from this negative parent reaction is that males are better than females.
It is fairly safe to say that many friends and family will be critical of this attitude, especially if they see that your son dresses in girl’s clothes or plays with girl’s toys. The best tactic to use in this situation is to calmly explain that this is normal child’s play and that you are not bothered by it.
If you are worried about your child, speak to your pediatrician. If he or she thinks there is something wrong, a referral can be made to a psychiatrist or child psychologist for an evaluation.
Your comments, opinions and questions are encouraged.
Allan. N. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Keep Reading By Author Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.
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Exploring gender roles, especially through dress, is actually a very normal part of childhood development, especially in the preschool years.Why does my son want to dress like a girl? ›
Young children love to play the roles they see their parents and other adults playing. For some children, this includes boys sometimes wanting to wear girls' clothes. After all, that is what mom does. Also, girl's clothes seem so much more colorful and fun than the ones that boys wear.Is it normal for a boy to like girl things? ›
The fact that your son enjoys playing with girls' things or has qualities we typically associate with girls, such as sensitivity and gentleness, is an indication that you've been open and supportive and that you've provided him with opportunities that go beyond typical "boys'" play.What is it called when a boy dressed like a girl? ›
This describes a person who wears the clothes usually associated with the "opposite "sex. This is seen as a form of gender expression. The word "transvestite" is not used much these days. And the expression "drag queen" is different, meaning a man who dresses "as a woman" for purposes of entertainment.
Children dressing up as the opposite gender is very common (almost as common, in fact, as parents who are worried about this behavior.) But rest assured, it is perfectly normal. Dressing up and playing pretend is the activity of choice for children of this age.At what age should a boy be able to dress himself? ›
The CDC says children should be able to dress themselves and tie their shoes by “middle childhood,” which they define as 6 to 8 years of age.Is it normal for a 4 year old boy to play with dolls? ›
Pollack stresses that a boy playing with dolls is "absolutely normal." And even if the boy would rather play with Barbie over GI Joe regularly, it's still normal.Is it normal for boys to want to wear a dress? ›
Many children will explore expressions of their opposite gender. For example, your son likes to try on dresses and play with your makeup. Some girls might like urinating standing up or wearing boy underwear. All of this is normal and developmental.Why do some boys wear dresses? ›
The main reason for keeping boys in dresses was toilet training, or the lack thereof. The change was probably made once boys had reached the age when they could easily undo the rather complicated fastenings of many early modern breeches and trousers.How can I make my son more masculine? ›
- Teach your son what you believe to be important in life. ...
- Set high standards for your son! ...
- Encourage him to study the lives of great men. ...
- Teach your son he doesn't have to be ashamed of being a male. ...
- Teach him manners—or even better, chivalry.
He leans toward you during conversation.
People tend to naturally lean toward people they like in conversation, according to Battle. If the guy you like tends to lean his face in closer to yours while he's talking to you or listening to you talk, that's a good sign that he might be into you.
However, many boys tend to become interested in girls around the time they reach puberty, which typically occurs between the ages of 10 and 14. This is because during puberty, their bodies undergo major changes as they transition from children into adults.Is it OK for a guy to wear girl clothes? ›
The answer is a resounding Yes. Clothes have no gender, they don't care who wears them, and stores don't care who buys them either. Some people say guys shouldn't wear bras but hell, if you want to, go for it.Is it OK for a man to wear women's clothing? ›
There is nothing wrong for you to want to wear women's clothing. The fact is that is just clothing, it has no sex (male or female) so wear what you are most comfortable in wearing. Just realize that most of society frowns upon crossdressing men so if you go out in public be prepared for negative comments and looks.Who is a tomgirl? ›
tomgirl (plural tomgirls) A boy who behaves in a typically girlish manner. quotations ▼synonym, synonym ▲ Synonym: janegirl Synonym: femboy. Synonym of tomboy (“girl who behaves in a typically boyish manner”) quotations ▼What are signs of gender dysphoria in children? ›
- negative self-image.
- strong dislike of your sexual anatomy.
- strong preference for the toys and activities associated with the other gender (in children)
- feel strongly that their gender identity differs from the sex they were given at birth or tell you that they feel unsure about their gender.
- ask you to call them by a different name and use a different pronoun like 'he', 'she' or 'they'
We found that nearly all TM and TW first experienced GD by age 7 years (gender identity typically becomes constant at ages 5-7 years),1 which is only 1.5 and 2.2 years later than each cohort's first life memories (which typically occur at ages 3-4 years).Should I let my 4 year old dress herself? ›
By age 4 your child should:
Dress self in t-shirts or sweaters with some assistance. Put on pants with assistance to zipper/button the pants. Able to fasten large buttons without assistance. Pull up zipper on jacket once it is started.
The simple answer is don't worry about it. There is no age that your child must know how to write his name. It will probably start emerging around 4 years, maybe a little earlier or later. If your child is too young developmentally to be expected to write, then the same applies to his name.
- Counts to 10. ...
- Names some numbers between 1 and 5 when you point to them. ...
- Uses words about time, like “yesterday,” “tomorrow,” “morning,” or “night” ...
- Pays attention for 5 to 10 minutes during activities. ...
- Writes some letters in her name.
Little boys who play with baby dolls are more likely to develop the capacity to care for others. They may also develop their capacity to nurture. Boys who play with baby dolls may one day become awesome fathers.Are 5 year olds too old for dolls? ›
As experts would tell you, there is no age limit for dolls. It may seem unusual in this day and age, but several 12-year-olds still play with dolls. And in a world where the internet is widespread, this may be a good thing.Why is it OK for boys to play with dolls? ›
Experts agree that doll play is as helpful for boys, as it is for girls as they too need to develop the same emotional skills as girls and often are deprived of that sort of emotional exploration. Boys can benefit from self-expression facilitated by doll play especially with more diverse representation among dolls.Why do boys wear pants and girls wear dresses? ›
Horse riding in many of these cultures originated as wartime activities primarily practised by men. Hence, men wearing trousers and women wearing dresses.Should I let my child dress how they want? ›
Making their own clothing choices can help children develop their sense of style and express their individuality. Of course, parents should always have the final say, but offering your children some fashion freedom is a brilliant way to build their independence and encourage them to trust their own opinions.Do boys have a dress code? ›
Most school dress codes do not have specific rules that stop students from wearing clothes usually worn by the opposite gender (think of how many girls wear 'traditionally-male' clothes like pants, ties, men's dress shirts, men's sneakers, or heavy work boots).When did boys stop wearing short pants? ›
Short trousers certainly became the norm for boys in the 1920s. Boys would wear short trousers until the age of about 13, and the schoolboy figure in socks and short trousers remained in fashion until the 1960s.
It pointed out that fashion designers and male skirt-wearers employ the wearing of skirts for three purposes: to transgress conventional moral and social codes, to redefine the ideal of masculinity, and to inject novelty into male fashion.Can a boy wear a dress to school? ›
Most school dress codes do not have specific rules that stop students from wearing clothes usually worn by the opposite gender (think of how many girls wear 'traditionally-male' clothes like pants, ties, men's dress shirts, men's sneakers, or heavy work boots).
- Acquire basic skills. Teach kids how to navigate basic skills, such as learning to swim, riding a bike and answering the phone. ...
- Try something new. ...
- Discourage complaining. ...
- Find your voice. ...
- Revisit tough experiences.
- Help your child learn to do things. At every age, there are new things for kids to learn. ...
- When teaching kids how to do things, show and help them at first. ...
- Praise your child, but do it wisely. ...
- Be a good role model. ...
- Ban harsh criticism. ...
- Focus on strengths. ...
- Let kids help and give.
Things You Should Know
Look for signs in his body language like eye contact and leaning in towards you while talking. He'll also initiate more physical touch between you. Study his behavior, including the time between text responses and how jealous he seems when other guys are mentioned.
Sociologists have documented that men and women can indeed just be friends and that there are actually benefits that come with cross-sex friendships — like learning from the other side how to best attract a mate — that you can't get from same-sex friendships.How do guys show they like a girl? ›
1 He makes eye contact with you. 2 He smiles when he sees you. 3 He checks you out when you're not looking. 4 He leans in when you talk.At what age do boys look attractive? ›
Male desirability to women peaks in the late 20s and does not fall below the average for all men until 36. Other research indicates that women, irrespective of their own age, are attracted to men who are the same age or older.Is it normal for a 4 year old boy to want to wear a dress? ›
Exploring gender roles, especially through dress, is actually a very normal part of childhood development, especially in the preschool years.What is it called when guys wear girls clothes? ›
Cross-dressing is the act of wearing clothes traditionally or stereotypically associated with a different gender. From as early as pre-modern history, cross-dressing has been practiced in order to disguise, comfort, entertain, and express oneself.Where in the Bible does it say a man should not wear women's clothes? ›
22.  The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.Can men wear unisex clothing? ›
The word unisex when applied to clothing, very simply describes clothing that both men and women can wear interchangeably, such as jeans and t-shirts. This term seems to have been adopted by fashion and clothing companies to suggests that they make clothing that can be worn by anyone.
Can a woman wear a man's T-shirt? Sometimes a woman wears a man's shirt as work attire, and this could include smart clothes. Other men have different ways of wearing this, for example, white shirts with jeans can look crisp and classic, and a check shirt with jeans over a camisole is an elegant casual appearance.Can men wear women's onesies? ›
Guys can wear onesies the same as girls. There are awesome onesies designed with males in mind, and plain colored onesies if you are looking for more masculine colors, simplicity, and comfort.What is a boy who behaves in a typically girlish manner? ›
tomgirl: noun; tom-gurl (plural tomgirls) A boy who behaves in a typically girlish manner. A tomboy, a girl who behaves in a typically boyish manner.What are tomboys called now? ›
Gender Creative or Gender Non-Conforming
These children were once labeled “tomboys” or “effeminate,” but today they're more accurately called gender creative. “Imagine a boy who discovers he prefers playing with dolls or a girl who refuses to wear skirts.
tomboys. A girl who dresses or acts in a stereotypically boyish way is often called a tomboy. Some famous literary tomboys include Scout from "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Jo from "Little Women."Why do little boys wear dresses? ›
The main reason for keeping boys in dresses was toilet training, or the lack thereof. The change was probably made once boys had reached the age when they could easily undo the rather complicated fastenings of many early modern breeches and trousers.Can boys wear dresses to school? ›
Most school dress codes do not have specific rules that stop students from wearing clothes usually worn by the opposite gender (think of how many girls wear 'traditionally-male' clothes like pants, ties, men's dress shirts, men's sneakers, or heavy work boots).Can boys wear a dress? ›
The bottom line is it's OK for men to be in skirts and boys to be in dresses. It doesn't make you less of a man if you want to rock a floral gown. The Harry Styles photoshoot has proven that you can wear a dress and be a man at the same time.What is it called when clothes are for boys and girls? ›
Cross-dressing is the act of wearing clothes traditionally or stereotypically associated with a different gender. From as early as pre-modern history, cross-dressing has been practiced in order to disguise, comfort, entertain, and express oneself.How many outfits should a 4 year old have? ›
Kids grow fast and we need to replace clothes quickly–so from a financial and sustainability perspective, it's important to buy less to waste less. A kid capsule ideally includes between 12-14 items of everyday wear.
Both Huebner and Bartell agree that you need to start paying attention to this issue as early as age 5 but that it's generally a good idea to set some boundaries by 10, at the latest.Can boys wear girl's clothes? ›
Yes, boys can dress in girls' clothes and vice versa. Although society still has some hang-ups on cross-dressing, people fear their children dressing as the opposite gender could be a sign of their sexual orientation or gender identity later in life.What is sexism in schools examples? ›
For example, comments that girls are not as good at math as boys. Being called derogatory names related to your sexual orientation. Being misgendered by classmates or teachers. Being told by a teacher that they expect more (or less) of you because you are a girl, boy, or nonbinary person.Is it OK for a boy to wear a skirt? ›
There are no rules dictating what boys can and cannot wear. If a boy wants to wear a dress, there is no reason why he cannot. Some boys might feel uncomfortable doing so, but there are plenty of boys who are confident enough to rock a dress. Wearing a dress does not make someone any less of a boy.What makes a boy want to be a girl? ›
It may be about an erotic desire to be in the role of the other gender, to play the roles and have the privileges of the other gender, or it may be related to a feeling that one was born into the “wrong” body. Or it could be all three. People who want to live the role of the opposite gender are called transgender.How should a boy dress nicely? ›
- Wear a suit that fits. Wear a suit that fits. ...
- Get a great watch. Get a great watch. ...
- Don't be afraid of color. ...
- Wear your jeans often. ...
- Look after your appearance. ...
- Quality Underwear can make you feel great. ...
- Great shoes make the man. ...
- Keep accessories to a minimum.