Child's Fear of Buttons

Archived Q&A and Reviews

5 year old's ''fear of buttons''

April 2006

My son is five and for the past couple of years he has refused to wear anything that has a button on it. Not only that, he doesn't want my husband or I to wear them either. He creates a big fuss if we put him to bed and there are buttons on my shirt. He is so stubborn about it that he will go to bed without his usual book or snuggle goodnight. He says he's afraid of them but his temperment (anger at us) makes me think he's just trying to control the situation. In the past I may have taken off my jacket to appease him but lately, I tell him that there are things I prefer he wouldn't wear but respect his choice and he needs to respect mine. He's getting more and more stubborn about it. It's getting frustrating. What should I do? nina

It does sound too strange to be true, but I have a friend in her 30's who has a fear/repulsion of buttons that she has had since childhood. She has moved back to England, but I think I could put you in email contact with her if you wanted to hear from someone who has the same phobia your son claims to have, and it would be a strange one to make up. Email me if you want me to put you in contact with her. Lisa

I'm sorry to hear about your son's button phobia, but glad to find out that my 4-year-old daughter isn't the only one to have it! I'm pretty sure with her that it's is a genuine phobia, not just a power thing. She's been this way since she was a 1 1/2 when her curly hair got caught on her father's shirt button. It's gotten a bit better (she'll allow one button on the back of her dresses and has mostly gotten over worrying about buttons on the clothes of others), but I've also learned never to buy her clothes with buttons down the front. Her teacher taught her how to sew buttons on a doll blanket, but although she was very proud of being able to do it, she made me a gift of the blanket and asked me to keep it in my own room. Still, you might try it with your son -- maybe it would help him to feel some control. My daughter is otherwise extremely confident and doesn't seem to have any other phobias at all though, so I'm hoping she will just grow out of it. sara

I have a good friend who had the same childhood concern about buttons. From his experience, he said that it was not a control thing, he just genuinely was terrified of buttons. They made him nauseous. Then he just outgrew it around age 7 or 8. Scott