Choosing clothes definitely falls into the category of the small stuff we’re advised not to sweat. As well as nurturing their sense of style, identity, and independence, letting kids dress themselves is a wonderful way to develop fine and gross motor skills. But if you want to minimise parental frustration or embarrassment and potential hypothermia or heatstroke for your little people, there are a few strategies which may help with inevitable early morning battles.
Get into a routine of choosing clothes for the following day at bedtime. This removes the stress from deciding what to wear because you’re not pushed for time, and can have a relaxed negotiation, rather than a frantic stand-off in the morning.
Encourage independence by letting children decide what they like, while you maintain some boundaries. If they can’t leave the t-shirts and shorts alone, even in winter, pack them away so the only options are longs. You could also introduce some family mottos for the winter months to avoid having the daily argument. Try, “We either wear two thin tops or one thick one” or, “On rainy days we keep our legs covered”.
With strong-willed children, provide some options and let them mix and match. Don’t be surprised if they want something you didn’t offer – that’s perfect for training their negotiation skills. If you’re okay with the new item, you can widen your options to include it, if not, explain why then leave it at that.
Remember that an outfit equates to personal identity for some children. I know a little girl who erupted tearfully, “Fine then, I’ll be a boy!” when pressured to wear trousers. It’s not worth pushing them to wear an item they’re uncomfortable in if there’s an alternative you can both agree on.
Avoid pointless battles over wearing the coat/scarf/hat etc. If you feel the weather warrants it, don’t provide any other option but brightly ask, “Are you going to pop your coat on now or when we get there?” They’re much more likely to ask for their woollies when they’re cold if their pride isn’t at stake.