As the mother of two daughters I was not really prepared for them to start demanding to dress themselves and reject my clothing choices from the age of three onward. I imagined that I would be buying and choosing which clothes they would be wearing each day for way longer than that. But no, these girls know what they like and they know when they want to wear it.
In some ways this is fine, I like that they are so different and make very personalised choices. I can see their own personalities shining through, plus I can see how much they enjoy putting together outfits. It is also great to see my six year old creating some incredible looks herself, in fact she is known as the fashionista and I often ask her advice on my outfit choices.
There are frustrations though. The process can be painfully slow. If we have somewhere to be then there isn’t always enough time to spend while ten outfits are pulled out of the wardrobe being carefully considered for the day’s wear. Sometimes the items chosen are not appropriate. Sparkly, sleeveless dresses for a trip to the mall in winter for example. And other times they are just ridiculous, kind of like fancy dress gone wrong.
Here are five tips for those of you who also have children who insist on choosing their own clothes each morning.
1. Let them have time to experiment when you are not in a hurry
My girls love a lazy weekend morning when they can take as long as they like to get dressed. They try on multiple outfits, match different pieces of clothing together, critique each others choices and have fun. Often during this time they manage to make a couple of outfits which they will select later in the week which saves time on those busy weekday mornings. They also have a wonderful time together experimenting and playing with their clothes.
2. Select a few outfits for them to choose from
On a busy morning, rather than offering free access to all of their clothes, I offer my daughter the choice of two or three outfits. Often these are clothes that they have selected at the weekend, but not yet worn. Although the selection process from this limited choice can still take a while, it is much quicker than offering up the entire wardrobe.
3. Be aware of your child’s likes and dislikes
When giving them options, make sure you consider their likes and dislikes. My eldest doesn’t really like trousers and finds a lot of things itchy and irritating. There is nothing worse than her selecting an outfit and then 5 minutes before we are due to leave the house telling me she needs to change because it is itchy. My youngest has to have either bare arms or bare legs, so we can not have trousers and a long sleeved top. Even if she accepts it, this is temporary and will also be rejected before leaving the house.
4. Allow enough time in your schedule for them to do it themselves
I definitely get involved in the outfit selection but appease the girls a bit by allowing them to dress themselves. Yes, this can take a bit of time depending on what they are wearing and also their age, but the sense of independence they gain from this is amazing. I don’t know how many times I have said “label at the back” as I watched them put their clothes on back to front!
5. Make it a competition
Sometimes I do not have the time to let them choose or get dressed themselves. On these mornings we have a competition to see who can be the first one ready. Suddenly they want my help so that they can be ready before me and before each other. The allure of winning the family contest is greater than the desire to do it all themselves.
6. Let them learn
I have had many a battle over jackets, jumpers, long sleeves, shoes that are not great for walking a long way in and other bad clothes choices. Those battles are hard fought and result in delays, tears and frustration. Now, unless it is snowing outside or feet will be bleeding by the end of the street, I let them learn for themselves. That jacket they don’t want may or may not be in my bag when they realise I was right, as may those comfortable walking shoes. Letting them experience the discomfort of their choices helps them to make wiser choices in the future.
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