Moms have different reasons for allowing their young children to choose their own clothes or not. I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong answer, but I have thoughtfully chosen to let my preschool-aged kid dress herself with creative license.
By Katie, Contributing Writer
My daughter is “into fashion.” At age three, she became very involved with her daily outfit selection.
I resisted her at first, since this had been my thing for the past three years.
But I soon realized how important this was to her. She simply wasn’t yielding as I’d first expected.
Truly, there is much charm to her eclectic, “individualistic” style. I can appreciate that.
But am I a little bit sad I don’t get to play dress up with my real-life baby doll anymore?
Yes. I am.
This is something I’ve put a lot of thought into over the past year. My kid is definitely the “least-put-together-looking” one among her friends… Among my friends’ kids.
And while part of me wants to maintain control, over time I’ve made the decision to let her take on the majority of the decision-making when it comes to clothes. I ensure that her choices are weather and activity appropriate, but give her a fair amount of license from there. Here’s why.
Why I Let My Preschooler Dress Herself
1. It’s important to her.
All kids are created differently. But for her, this matters. I weigh her interests against mine and find hers to be greater.
2. She asserts her independence in a way I can live with.
Kids are going to assert their independence. Gaining a sense of control and autonomy in an area of their life is part of normal development. They search for this in many different ways, and not all of them positive. I’ve decided that I can live with this one.
3. She feels beautiful.
If she wants to wear her Christmas dress to the the grocery store in March or a tutu over her clothes, it’s because she feels pretty and “twirly.” She feels like the princesses she so dearly loves. The way she beams is priceless, especially when kindly (knowing) strangers compliment her outfit.
4. These memories are more precious.
Having stacks of photos down the road of her wearing what was in style (which will be out of style by then) will not be as sweet as seeing her “doing her thing,” being herself and knowing she had that opportunity. I don’t think I’ll regret that.
5. Does it really matter? Really?
Sure, it’s natural to want our children to look like Gap models, but our goals are much higher than grooming children to have a great “image.” What truly matters is cultivating in them a heart for God and people. What truly matters is teaching them to love well.
I’m not going to overly emphasize outward appearance (not saying there’s not some importance here), when my focus is primarily her heart formation.
As my college-mentor Jen would say, “don’t major on the minors.”
(Read more of my thoughts on parenting with meaning here.)
6. When I don’t make it a fight, I have influence.
She’s willing to let me weigh-in or put my foot down about her clothes without much resistance when I really want to.
She has many opportunities to choose, so when it is important to me, she doesn’t mind so much.
The cuteness of this is not lost on me. And as you can see from these photos, the smiles alone are worth it all. 🙂
Do you maintain control of your child’s style? Why or why not?
Oh yes, my two year old and four year old girls both love to dress themselves! I try to guide them to appropriate options without being too crazy about it unless there’s a real reason – church, for instance. I agree with everything you said about letting kids find autonomy in small, relatively harmless ways!
When my boys began to dress themselves it wasn’t always perfect. There were lots of backwards underwear and out wear. In the end, them dressing themselves made my life much easier.
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
“My kid is definitely the “least-put-together-looking” one among her friends…”
Haha. Yes. Here too. I don’t stress over my boys looking dapper. They are comfortable in their clothes that they pick out and that’s the important thing. I also have a daughter after two sons. At first, of course, it was so much fun dressing her and picking out outfits. But I have to remind myself that she’s not my doll. My temptation is to buy clothes she doesn’t need because they are cute or because I feel pressure to make her look a certain way. But really, she’s fine only looking moderately cute 😉 and she’s happy if she’s comfortable and able to play easily with her brothers.
My daughter is 8. Has been dressing herself for 6 of those years. And I will say this, 6 years later. She’s FAR better at putting herself together – and making herself look good! – than her peers. She’s already picked up on her own style, while also having spent some time figuring out what actually looks good together. She doesn’t always nail the look. I mean, she is only 8. But how much better to have her look good, in her own way, than only know how to dress like a baby Gap model!
I think that letting your preschool aged kids dress themselves is a great idea. I have let my boys dress themselves and pick out their clothes since they were late 2 early 3. Anytime you can give your kids a choice, you should let them. I also let my kids pick out their breakfast and lunch foods. They have a guideline that they must go by, but other than then that, they get to pick it.
My beautiful daughter is now 27 and I still remember another mom in kindergarten asking me if I always let her dress herself? Yes, I did and I now have a happy, well adjusted daughter that owns her own business that came from her incredible creativity! She has also blessed us with a lil grand baby girl that has her mom as spunk!
My 5 year old loves to dress herself. Wild color mixes…and for a long time now, every outfit has included a tutu. Most school days she lets me choose her clothes. But we’ve developed an easy arrangement that allows for her approval of whatever I pick. Love letting her be herself!