Nudity rules: why your toddler is obsessed with being naked

Photo: iStock and Facebook (Jeni Boysen)
Photo: iStock and Facebook (Jeni Boysen) 

In the time that it took Jennifer Boysen to grab a shower, her two-year-old son had bared all to the world…quite literally. 

When she got out the shower, Boysen picked up her phone and saw that a number of texts had come in from her neighbour.

The texts advised that her son, Dax, had stripped off his diaper and was standing at the window fully naked in view of the entire street. 

"Your kid is naked in your window," her neighbour had written, adding that she'd deleted the photo she'd taken. "But I looked up when I got home and there he was." 

In an interview with TODAY Parents, Boysen said that when she returned to the bedroom, Dax was already sitting on the bed. However, he still had no clothes on because, like her other four year old son, he 'hates clothes'.  

"He had only had a diaper on prior to that, because it's pretty usual for my kids to rip their clothes off," Boysen laughed. On Facebook, she joked that her kids "may as well be nudists."


Yep, I relate. 

My youngest son has just turned four and his nudists days are far from behind us. In fact, his behind is generally what I see the most. 

You name the place or time and he's been naked. At the park, tick. At the beach, tick. When he managed to escape out into the front garden, tick. And, saving the best to last, the supermarket, tick. Oh, the shame! 

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Whenever I facetime my sister, there's a constant streaker in the background – not sure she'd recognise him if he was actually wearing clothes – and when friends visit, I usually have to wrestle his underpants back on numerous times in between drinking cups of tea. 

To be honest it doesn't bother me at all, at least not in the confines of my own home. 

I kind of envy his carefree attitude to wearing clothes. I almost wish I could be the same. But, if I strip off in the park, it's kind of unacceptable and ok, a little bit awks and if I walk around naked at home, my husband thinks his luck is in. So, nope on that front either. 

I'd like to say that my eldest child was different when he was small, but he was exactly the same. 

He hated the restriction of clothes and would take them off the minute we got in. He wasn't quite as openly public in his nudity, but it still wasn't unusual for neighbours to regularly see his bum. 

Tips from a psychologist 

"It's totally normal for toddlers and younger children to want to strip off naked," says psychologist, Marny Lishman. "We were all born naked, so it's a natural state to be in." 

Lishman notes that there are lots of reasons why toddlers like to do nudie runs at inappropriate (to us anyway) moments. It's their natural state, it feels good, clothes are irritating sometimes, they're at the age where they want to control more and also, IT'S FUNNY. 

"Kids are going to repeat a behaviour when others smile or laugh at them," says Lishman. "Still, it is socially frowned upon, so the next step is teaching and learning about getting dressed and staying dressed." 

Lishman offers the following suggestions for this 

  • involve them in picking their outfit for outings (don't give them too much choice though) - this makes them feel a little in control 
  • reward them after the outing if they stay fully clothed 
  • don't laugh if they do strip off (if you don't want it repeated)
  • talk to them about how we dress when we go out, we don't be naked in front of other people we don't know but communicate it in a fun way 
  • ask them why they do it (just in case they're uncomfortable)
  • don't scold them 
  • give them plenty of nudie time at home 
  • practice dressing a favourite teddy or doll and bring them to the shops / outing too 
  • take comfort in knowing that they will grow out of it 

I'm sure it won't be much longer before Mr four finally accepts that clothes are the norm. In the meantime, I'll just accept his love of being in the buff (at least at home).

Luckily for me, he has a pretty cute little butt.