It happens to all of us … your child suddenly develops a passionate opinion about the clothes she wears to school. Even boys are not immune to the "Do my jeans look cool?" question. The battle lines are drawn and before you know it and mornings become stress sessions. You are not alone!
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I loved these suggestions from the Bright Horizons website and their E-Family News, which offers some practical suggestions for lowering the tension level on the clothes question.
Fashion Wars: Avoiding the Battles Over Clothes and Reducing the Clothing Conflict
Having our children learn to dress themselves is an important life skill they just can't live without. Here are some things to consider:
Draw your lines and pick your battles carefully. Do we really care if our young children go to school with one white sock and one black sock because they "did it all by themselves?" Does it matter if school-age children wear all black and spike up their hair? Maybe, but most children are merely experimenting with self-expression, exerting independence, and expressing normal rebellion. Ultimately, most of us have to conform to societal expectations of appropriate clothing in order to be successful.
Determine what is inappropriate. Clothing that does not protect your child against the weather and clothing that is revealing would probably be considered inappropriate by most of us. What's too revealing? Do the twist, turn, and lean over test. If your child's undergarments show when they bend over or raise their hands up, their clothes may be too revealing.
Reserve the right to veto certain clothing. Even if you feel comfortable letting your children express themselves, let them know that you reserve the right to object to them wearing certain outfits.
Be consistent. Once you have set expectations, stick with them. Don't teach your child to outlast you. The worst of all worlds is to say, "I said ‘no.’ No. No. No. No. Alright, just this once."
Establish parent choice days. From the time your children are young, you can establish occasions when your child has to wear what you choose. These may be holidays, religious services, special ceremonies, or family gatherings.
Give your children choices. For infants and toddlers, the dressing part is not so much "the what" of clothing as "the how" of dressing. Children just don't want to get dressed sometimes, and that's especially true in the morning and when we're in a rush. For young children who are reluctant to get dressed in the morning, dress them for bed in comfortable sweats or short outfits, depending upon the season. In the morning, change your child's diaper, brush his or her hair, and go.
Plan ahead. For preschoolers, try selecting all the clothes for the week to avoid morning battles, or give your child two outfits to choose from when getting dressed. For especially independent dressers, remove any clothing that you're not willing to let your child wear from her closet. Make "I dressed myself today," stickers and let your child wear them on her outfit that she chose. Then everyone will know that your child's ensemble was your child's choice and not yours.
Shop together. For school-age children, shop together. Let your child know your expectations before you get to the store. For example, "We are not buying any belly shirts." Give your child a clothing budget for each shopping trip. With your assistance let him or her decide which clothing and shoes he or she wants.
Usually the biggest problem with our children's choice of clothing is our own parental embarrassment. Other adults expect us to have our children "properly" dressed, and if they aren't, they judge us as incompetent parents. But as long as a child is warm and dry, does it really matter if she's wearing something unusual? It's a simple idea, but somehow a toddler in a superhero outfit seems much cuter when it's not your child.
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