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How can I get my 13 year old son to take his shirt off?

My son is not overweight, is athletic and well liked. He will not take off his shirt at home or in public and it affects the things he will or will not do. He did not go to a party today with his whold class because it was at a country club with a beach and a pool. He did surf camp over the summer fine, but they require the kids to wear a rash guard shirt. I told him he could wear that today for the party, but he still refused to go. All of his friends went, including his "girlfriend". Any advice?

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Asked by Anonymous at 4:15 PM on Sep. 20, 2009 in Teens (13-17)

Answers (20)
  • What reason does he have to be worried about being topless? has he had a negative experience? Does he have body acne? Scars from an accident? been teased ever?

    I would try to find the route of the problem and talk about why he feels uncomfortable.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:17 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • I guess I don't see a problem with it. Keep encouraging him to go even with a shirt on. My husband still won't take his shirt off anywhere!! He wears a t-shirt to swim in!

    Answer by micheledo at 4:22 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • Kids at that age have that body image problem, he'll outgrow it or figure out how to deal with it. I don't think there is much you can do about it. Just keep encouraging him to do activities with his friends, and one day he may surprise you. My son is 18 and I haven't seen him without a shirt on since....oh....I have no idea when. But he does go swimming, wearing a t shirt.

    Answer by kjrn79 at 4:26 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • If he does not feel comfortable not wearing a shirt. Stop pushing him to.

    I personally think men should have to stay covered just like us women do.


    Answer by louise2 at 4:28 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • Maybe, like another poster said, it's a body acne issue. When I was a pre-teen and teenager, I had horrible acne on my back. It affected everything I wore. God forbid someone saw it, so I made sure the clothing I wore covered it. Maybe he's self conscious about that.

    I wouldn't push it. If he doesn't want to take it off, he has his reasons.

    Answer by ap9902 at 4:39 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • I must ask, have you seen him lately with his shirt off? My little sis started cutting at 13. She developed "body image issues" and we just left her alone about it, because we didn't know. She too is thin and athletic. No one knew until she told me what was going on. Counseling helped.

    Assuming this is not the problem, I would just let him be.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:58 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • MY DS is the same, he is not over weight just does not like to go in public with his shirt off. If he misses out on some things that is his problem. I just let it be. Good Luck

    Answer by dillonsma at 6:03 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • Do not make this a big issue. Allow him to take off his shirt when he feels it is best for him. If he wants to wear his shirt then let him. Hopefully over time he will realize it is okay . Drawing attention to this will most likely make things worse.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:01 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • leave him alone...

    Some kids just aren't comftable with their bodies at that age and if you bug him about it you will make it worse.

    One reason could be if he has acne.... I know I got acne on my back around that age if thats the case take him to a dermotologist if you can afford it otherwise just leave him be... summer is over now so maybe he will be better by next summer.

    Answer by MomofWildcats at 9:48 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

  • my son is almost 16 and is the same way. always has been. there was a time when he was younger and we went to the pool with his cousin of the same age. he didn't wear one so then my son stopped wearing his but hes back to wearing the shirt again. some kids are just so much more self concious about thier appearance. when he's older he'll regret letting it get in the way of his having fun , but thats just something time and age will cure.

    Answer by binker55 at 9:58 PM on Sep. 20, 2009

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