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Ask The Expert: My Son Wears Long Sleeves in Summer

Dear Your Teen,

My son hates to wear shorts and short sleeves in the summer. He looks miserable in the heat, but he won’t budge. Is this a typical teenager thing or should I worry?

EXPERT | Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D.

It is possible that your son has a sensory issue but it is much more likely that he is a self-conscious teen who is not yet comfortable exposing more of his body. This may be normal self-conscious teen behavior.

Wearing Long Sleeves in Summer

On the other hand, I do not know if your son is over or under-weight and is hiding his body because of a weight issue. If he has a weight issue then perhaps you can get him some help with this rather than focusing on his clothing.

He may be embarrassed about having hair on his chest or acne on his body. Ask him about this gently and help him find a way to cope which doesn’t involve insisting that he change his clothing style. Or perhaps, he hasn’t yet found a summer style that he likes.

I would focus less on the sunlight issue and more on whether or not your son is a well-adjusted teen who is socializing and functioning well despite that he wears long sleeves in summer. If he seems to be doing well in life and is not showing any signs of significant behavioral changes like isolating, poor school performance, or anxiety or weight issues then I would suggest that you not be concerned about his choice of clothing.

I always suggest that parents pick their battles with their teens because there certainly will be plenty.

And on the other side of this problem:

My prediction is that your son is dealing with sweating and the heat in his own way and that he will eventually change our of his long sleeves in summer. If, however, there are accompanying issues like those that I mentioned above, then consider getting your son to a nutritionist, pediatrician or even a therapist.

Good luck!

Dr. Barbara Greenberg is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of teens, children, and families. She is the co-author of Teenage as a Second Language. She writes and consults for several publications and frequently appears on TV. You can find her work on her website

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