Do you find yourself always at battle with your 3-year-old son or daughter when it comes to what to wear? You want them to wear casual and durable, weather-appropriate clothing, but they are only interested in all things sparkly, loud and colorful.
The minute you tell them, ‘Wear this and not that’ you’d end up with a full-blown tantrum that may last the entire day. They might just end not wearing anything at all, laying on the floor and not moving.
A lot of parents have gone through the battle of getting their kids to wear certain things, and if you find yourself with a child who is now more vocal about their wardrobe, don’t fret! This is a great sign that they are growing up, and as much as its a daily battle, be happy that they are taking charge of these simple decisions in their life as they are becoming independent and exploring their limits.
Getting ready to head out the house gives children and parents the opportunity to practice independence on both ends of the spectrum. That said, there are a few things that you can do to make everyone’s mornings more bearable.
- Give them choices
Three to four-year-olds are testing their independence, and they are very likely to grasp control of whatever they can, starting with what they wear. As a parent, you can let them have it, whenever possible. Allow your child to make little choices on things that do not matter to you. Do you want to wear a blue skirt or red pants? Do you want your hair up or down? Do you want to have your eggs scrambled or fried? Allowing them to have a say at these little things lessens the probability of them throwing a fit to have their way.
Allow them to have different tastes
Just like you, kids also have their own likes and dislikes. You may find them cute in a paisley print shirt, but your child may not be okay with it. Within reason, be flexible with them about their preferences. They probably hate the way certain fabric feels on their skin, just like us. They may also have a preference for a certain color. Your daughter may want to wear dresses all the time, or your son may just want to run around in short pants. You can give them options to dress up and also talk to them about the importance of wearing certain items of clothing, so they don’t get cold.
Shop with them
The next time you are planning to get clothes for your child, here’s another way to include them in the decision making process and give them options. If you are shopping online, this is a great way to sit with your child and show them the options available, as well as talk to them about what is age and weather appropriate. Ask them what they like and don’t like, tell them about what would work well for cold and hot weather, allow them to decide on adding things into the shopping cart when you shop online for toddler clothing.
Take the time to practice.
By the time your child is three-years-old, they can handle the basics of getting dressed from putting on their underwear, brushing their hair, putting on a sweatshirt. Tying their shoelaces, buttoning up their shirt, and even threading the zipper may be a little harder. When it is time to get dressed, allow them to do this on their own and only help them when they need it. Allowing your child to dress for themselves inspires confidence and competence. Keep in mind that a child dressing themselves will take a longer time, but as much as possible, let them get dressed on their own, especially during the weekends when there is no need to rush. Giving them more power to get dressed also leads to fewer struggles and tantrums on school days.
Make it a game
Time is of the essence; any parent can tell you that, especially in the mornings. Unfortunately, our preschoolers do not feel the same sense of urgency to get dressed and ready to go on time during the weekdays. To combat this, you can make it a competition to turn dressing into a game. Make it a competition by saying, let’s see who can put on their clothes the fastest’. Set a timer and reward your child with a sticker or a high-five if they can get dressed before the buzzer sets off. You’d be surprised how fast they would progress by adding the element of fun into the chore of getting up and getting dressed.
Setting a step-by-step guide
Make this another activity with your child. Create a step-by-step guide for them from images of themselves getting dressed. Take a photo of them waking up, brushing their teeth, putting on a shirt or dress, eating breakfast. Paste this in their room so they can follow it every day.
Making it a habit to set out their clothes the night before
Getting ready for tomorrow is as important as getting ready for bed. Setting out the clothes that they can wear for the next morning can reduce a morning meltdown and also creates anticipation of waking up the next morning. Allow your child to pick and choose what they’d like to wear (this also gives you the opportunity to help them decide what works best for the weather and reduce time in finding their favorite clothing item that they must absolutely wear) and lay it out on the table or chair before they go to sleep. This is a great way to cultivate independence as well as discipline.
Allowing your child to make choices on what to wear instills a sense of independence in them. While it is not a guarantee that all your weekday mornings are going to be a breeze, you can be sure that implementing these easy practices can make the day a little less of a battlefield. It is also a great way of teaching children the importance of sticking to the time, the importance of dressing according to the weather as well as dressing up according to the events of the day.
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