If I have learned one thing from being a parent, it’s that some of the most mundane tasks can be the hardest. One of those tasks that consistently proved to be a challenge was getting my tiny toddler dressed.
I was frustrated. Our day always started with a fight, a fight where she would always end in tears and I was too flustered to have the patience she deserved. We had worked so hard at teaching our then 3 year old to be an independent and Confident Child so why should I be surprised when she wanted to exercise her independence?
How do we find a balance of fashion functionality all while still fostering the confidence, independence & imagination we as parents work so hard to instill?
1. Give them Choices. This seems simple enough, right? Children crave boundaries, but also need the freedom of making choices. This is simply a compromise; you lay out 2 to 3 outfits that will suit what you are doing for the day and the child chooses 1 of those outfits. Not mixing them not changing them. It’s either this or that; 1 or 2. This will help give them the choice, but you still have the control based on what is going on for that day. My daughter loves tutu’s and would wear them everywhere! This helped hone in those times when her eclectic tastes weren’t always the best stage.
2. Develop and Teach them the basics of fashion. I know not your common school subject. But the best way to avoid conflict is knowledge. Teaching your child what to wear and when will help you in the long run. Remember those paper dolls that you could dress in different outfits? What better way while waiting for your food in restaurant than to teach your tiny toddler about clothing (Plus a bonus: it keeps them quiet). Teaching can be as simple as, “Since it is cold out today, what should our doll wear?” This will help teach things like when it’s cold outside that shorts aren’t always the best choice.
3. Pants aren’t optional. No Exceptions. I know this seems like a no brainer, but this tiny toddler thinks everyday warrants a no pants party. While I love a good party, we don’t deviate from this rule. We choose this rule for modesty and for safety. Even under dresses we ask that she wear shorts or tights, you leave the house you have pants.
4. It’s OK to experiment and push the fashion boundaries. Just like in life, there is a time and place for everything. So why not if you have nowhere to be today let them explore! Let them create and make fashion. Let them put the underwear on their head and wear your high heels around! Not only will they love that they have the choices it is helping them build character and imagination. I often will lay out a pile of just fun crazy things and let them go to town, some of my favorite picture memories are of them playing dress up!
5. Praise and affirm their choice. No matter what choice they made in outfit or life. Even if it is not the outfit you would have liked them to choose. Praise that choice. Try and choose a specific praise. Not just “I like that dress” Try and compliment their unique style, “I love that you chose a blue dress today it makes your eyes sparkly, is blue your favorite color?” Choosing to praise our children builds their self-esteem and self-worth. They see themselves through our eyes and I want to make sure my Tiny Toddler knows she is beautiful in her pajamas, in the mud, or in a tutu. Her value is directly affected by my praise and acknowledgement to her and her choices at this crucial learning stage in her life.
Being Mom isn’t an easy job! But you are doing it, and you are doing it well! We would love for you to share some tips of how you encourage your child to dress themselves! Not all kids fit a mold and we love when our readers share their creative thoughts! Comment below, or find us on Facebook.