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?
5 Must Follow Rules when Teaching Kids to Dress Themselves
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.
Once the choice has been made we love hanging ours on the door under our what we are wearing tomorrow sign! This eliminates the same fight tomorrow!
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.
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Birute Efe says
I love these ideas.My daughter is 5 already but we till have issues there 🙂 Thank you for writing this
Rabia @TheLiebers says
My rules for my kids are even more simple: Something to cover the top half and something to cover the bottom half. They quickly learned to ask me about the weather (or open the door and check themselves.) We’ve got busy mornings, and I have chosen not to fight over any of their clothing choices as long as they covered the required body parts.
Love your ideas and your Matilda Jane stash 😉
Mama Neeks says
I have 6 month old son & after participating in a reading study learned he could already make choices. I love letting him pick hisitop for the day. I like to think that even in a baby that young it gives him a small sense of control in the world.
Alida TheRealisticMama says
Marta Mart says
I kinda lost hope for my daughter to do it herself…nothing works…its some magical power struggle i guess…wish me luck!
Alida TheRealisticMama says
How old is your daughter? Would picking out the clothes together the night before work? Sometimes it’s just finding the right thing that fits, there’s no one size fits all solution, so don’t give up. We’ve all been there.
Uplifting Families says
This post brings back so many memories of when my daughter was little. She loved dressing herself and often came up with some pretty crazy outfits. I let her do it so that she had her choice as long as we weren’t running errands or going some where that she had to look nice.
Today, she is 18 and she is a fashionista. 🙂
Lauren Tomlinson says
My philosophy on my daughter dressing herself is if it it appropriate for the activity/ destination, weather appropriate and all necessary things to be covered are then shes good. Im also with you on the pants rule.
can you tell me where you got the sign, love it!
That’s a great question for Alyssa! I believe she made it herself, good ole’ DIY.
We have five children and have a very similar approach to the fashion battle.
I absolutely love your door hanger. Do you mind sharing where you found this or how you made it? I use a “Good Morning, Sunshine” basket but would love to change this to your idea since I hang the majority of their clothes anyway.