When should kids be allowed to dress themselves?
Do your kids get to pick their own clothes?
And what you think it’s important for your kids to know about style and their clothing choices?
I have mostly let my children pick their own clothes, partly for ease, partly because I want them to have a good sense of what they like and dislike. I just read a great article that included many other benefits of allowing children to choose their own clothing. Some of the benefits were things I’d never thought of before.
Even though I allow my kids lots of leeway when it comes to what they’re wearing, I still think they need to know about what the norms are in society so that they can make conscious choices about how they present themselves to the world. And sometimes I don’t give them as much choice. For certain functions it’s appropriate to dress up; you will wear holes in your PJ’s if you play outside in them and I am not willing to see that happen, and you’ve got to wear shoes in restaurants.
What about other times though? A few weeks ago we went on a homeschool group field trip and I found myself cringing a little when I looked at my kind of grubby looking kids next to the rest of the more polished group. I hadn’t realized how stained the clothes were that they’d put on that morning until I saw them in a larger group. Now I wonder if I ought to pay a bit more attention before events like that. I think that society in general, treats people better when they look better. Personally, I feel better about myself when I am more put together as well.
So, how do I support my children’s independence and help them look their best as well? Or is that important yet? The reality is that I don’t have it in me to, nor do I want to, pick out all their clothes. I have “dress nice” clothes set aside for things like weddings, but perhaps I ought to put some aside for “outside the home” wear as well? Or do you think that at these ages (about 2, 5 and 7) having free reign is the best idea?
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Great article. MY LO is a little too young to be choosing her own clothes but she and I will discuss what she should wear every day. I will usually say something to the effect of “Today is going to be hot but may rain. You should probably wear something with longer pants, but a short sleeved top.” or “Today we are going to the beach. We can wear something that is easy to change in and out of.” Maybe when she gets old enough to dress herself, she and I can have that discussion so she can choose something appropriate for the events of the day.
I have a 4-year-old. On weekends, she picks out what she wants to wear, usually a dress from her closet (I have play dresses hung up at her level). I usually lay out all her clothes for the week on the weekend to make mornings go quicker when I’m trying to get the two of us ready and out the door for work/preschool. I’ll let her pick two of the outfits (she loves dresses but that’s not really appropriate for P.E. days), or let her pick an element of an outfit (which shirt, etc). On weekends she dresses herself. On weekdays, it’s usually a mix of her dressing herself and me helping to speed up the process.
I let my 2.5 yo dress herself. I made dresser labels so she could easily see and remember what was in each drawer. We’re still working on her actually picking things out and getting dressed herself. We’ve been firmly in 2yo tantrum territory for the last couple months and usually she just helps me get clothes picked out. I’m all for kids picking out their own clothes and dressing themselves. I think it helps them develop their sense of self and independence.
I think it should be “When to Let Your Husband Dress Your Kids.”
Great thought here folks, thanks.
I also wanted to share this comment that I received on facebook after I contacted an acquaintance who I know writes about tactile defensiveness. She says,
“Thank you for asking me to share, Creative With Kids. If your child becomes emotional over clothing, socks and shoes. Please, have a look at https://www.illtellyouwhy.com“
Thank you Alissa for inviting me to share my website.
As the mother of two daughters with tactile defensiveness, dressing meltdowns became part of our life. Now , after learning much, my girls are doing just fine. I have devoted my time to spreading awareness about tactile issues and wrote a children’s book “I’ll Tell You Why… I Can’t Wear Those Clothes !” If your child becomes emotional about clothing,shoes,socks please take a minute and have a look at my website and you are always welcome to send me an e-mail if you have any questions.
This is a long term proposition for me. My 5yo is ‘on the spectrum’ as we say and could potentially be a kid who cares a great deal about what he is wearing, the kind of fabric his clothes are made of, not THE label but the label itself may be aggravating, as might be the colours or the closeness of the fit etc. But not my kid – he doesn’t care about any of this. He wouldn’t care what I chose for him to wear. Dressing himself is something I want him to be able to do as soon as he is able. He can take it all off easily enough, but putting it on is a bit more difficult.
So we have been working, slowly, methodically towards this self care skill and we are about half way. If he came to me in some strange collection of mismatched clothes that were all on the correct parts of the body – I would do the dance of joy.
Wishing you that dance of joy, Rose! Thanks for commenting 🙂
I hang my kids clothes in their closets as outfits. My older daughter (5) likes a choice, and my younger daughter (4) doesn’t really care. Each night before going to bed, I hold up the first 2 outfits. They choose one, and there’s no going back to the closet to see the other options.
I ALWAYS let them pick out their own socks and underwear, unless it’s for a special function like family pictures, weddings, etc.
Recently, my older daughter has ideas for outfits in her mind, but her outfit choices are decidedly less modest than mine. (I’m a foster parent and the girls were both subjected to less-than-ideal female role-models before they came here.)
We have tons of clothes, since most is given to us by loving family members and friends. If the girls don’t choose a particular outfit that’s come out of the closet for their review in a week’s time, I send it off to the neighbor girl who gets all our hand-me-downs.
In short, this is what works for me, but something completely different could work for you. I hope this helps some!
A little before he turned 4, my son became very particular about picking his own clothes. He loves the ritual of going into his room, getting dress and coming out tada! fully dressed. I’ve seen how he picks everything out, including underwear, and lays it on the floor and then sits down and gets dressed. Besides the fact that he tends to wear the same few shirts over and over, he has surprised me in so far doing a great job of pairing up clothes. We had a little trouble on Easter, and like you mentioned, I sometimes think he doesn’t look as “spiffy”/straight-out-of-a-catalog as some of his friends…. but, oh well. I know he is gaining in independence and confidence and that is wonderful.
Cerys @ Rainy Day Mum
T is only 14 months (almost 15 months) and doesn’t mind what she she wears I put her in what is practical for the day depending on whether it’s a stay at home day, a go out of the house with friends that know that we spend our time getting messy at home, friends that have not got a clue what mess we make regularly or a post outting. We do the same clothes for stay at home and messy suiting friends, but for her we have nicer clothes for other occasions. I suspect that this may change in the future as she becomes more aware of what she is wearing and has preferences.
With J – 2years and 9 months he really doesn’t care what he wears – I give him a choice each morning and he just shrugs with a “whatever” kind of face and points to the item nearest him. All of his clothes apart from his best are stain covered. I’ve even got him to choose items out of a drawer all he does is open the drawer and pull out what ever is on top it doesn’t matter if it’s 2 pairs of socks and a t-shirt then there is no problem swapping anything or making sure he has trousers as well.
Jill @ A Mom With A Lesson Plan
I toss clothes with holes or stains. Little M would rather wear hand me downs and thrift store gems than brand new clothes. She has a very full closet and I have spent very little money (lucky me). While I don’t let her wear pjs as day time clothes I have come to terms with the fact that it is her body and her style and there fore it is her choice.
There are days when I cringe a bit that her hair is not neatly braided or that her bright pink polka dot tights don’t match with the red plaid dress she wears but when it comes down to it I think how she FEELs is the most important thing.
I agree that I feel better when I feel “put together” but I think that has more to do with how much I like what I’m wearing. Not necessarily how everyone else likes it.
Whenever I start to worry about it I ask myself “Next week who will remember what she is wearing today?” Probably no one. But forever Little M will have a firm grasp on her own opinions and confidence in her decisions.