Letting your child dress themselves is part of the growing up process.
You want to wear what? When your child is old enough to dress him or herself, it may be time to teach them that polka dots and stripes don’t match.
Every day since your child was born, it has been your job to dress him or her. What fun you had picking out tutus and giant floral hair bands for your little girl or those trendy skinny pants and “big boy” button downs for your little boy. Naturally, we choose clothes and accessories based on our own taste and personal style. Now that your little person is becoming a bigger person, it’s just as natural that she would want to express her own personal style preferences. Often, in the relentless and wonderful pursuit of independence, she will flat out refuse to wear the clothes you picked out for her and rebel. Frustrating? Sure, but it’s admirable too.
It’s all a healthy part of growing up. At this age, children don’t have many options on what they can control. They aren’t able to say that they don’t want to go to school or that they want a later bedtime; that is the parent’s choice. One thing they can control is choosing outfits to wear to school each day. As a parent, there are many things you can do to help your kids express themselves freely without letting them go to school with snow pants and flip flops on.
1. Understanding your child’s decision on what to wear:
Style helps us express ourselves. By letting your child pick out their own clothes, they are essentially defining themselves and where they will fit in at school. Children tend to mimic others whom they like by dressing the way they do. It’s important for parents to let children pick what fits their preferences and style. When you are out shopping with your child, be sure to get their approval before you buy something for them.
2. Understand there are limits:
If she insists on wearing snow boots when it’s 80 degrees out, there’s good reason to pursue this particular battle. At this point, it’s okay to explain to her that she can’t wear that to school. But if she decides to wear mismatched clothes that could elicit a call from the fashion police, and it’s not inappropriate from a comfort standpoint, simply let it go. You might recall your own fashion choices as a child for inspiration. A helpful hint is to separate her outfits in different areas in her room so she understands what is for school, for play and to play dress up with. Or, pick out two outfits the night before school with her and let her pick the one she wants to wear the next day.
3. Be sure to respect your child:
When they are younger, most children don’t care about looking good, they just want to be comfortable. It’s important to make sure that what she wears fits in her comfort zone. Make sure that her clothes don’t have labels that poke, zippers that can be hard to raise and lower or pockets that are scratchy. Have her approve the clothes before you cut the tags off. Should you find something she really likes, buy it in a few colors since you know she already likes it.
4. Don’t forget to breathe:
When she picks out her own clothes and walks down the stairs saying, “Look at what I picked out?!” It’s important to give her the satisfaction of saying she did a good job. If a child makes a fashion faux pas, it’s not the end of the world. If she happens to get ridiculed for something she wore, be sure to use this as a teaching moment and let her choose whether to change the outfit or stand out and be themselves.
At Apple Montessori Schools, we believe in the Montessori philosophy about respecting the child. We make sure to let each child’s individual personality shine. With 15 schools across north and central New Jersey, find the Apple Montessori School closest to you to learn more.