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Solving Dressing Dilemmas

by Lori Sciame | September 9th, 2011 | Preschool

Do you have a pre-schooler who hates getting dressed in the morning? Does he or she veto every outfit you pick out, and run screaming whenever you approach with a brush? If you do, don’t despair, you are not alone. Many parents have spirited children that make the morning rush more difficult.

Did you notice I used the word spirited when referring to this type of child? It’s true; the child who gives you the most trouble when dressing is only asserting his or her independent nature.

Take my daughter, Elizabeth. She wanted to choose her own clothes from about 21 months old on. She had her own ideas of what colors to wear together, as well as which shoes she thought looked best with each outfit. For example, one morning, when she had just turned three, her outfit consisted of a purple magician’s jacket (complete with tails), a red University of Wisconsin T-shirt, rainbow striped leggings, a blue jean skirt, and her sister’s black tap shoes.

When we left the house that morning, I took a deep breath, and prepared to meet the accusing glares of the other parents. You know those, “Can’t you control your kid?” looks? But, I also felt proud, as I had given Elizabeth the freedom to choose clothing that made her feel good. In my heart, I realized that she needed to prove her independence more than I needed her to look like a “normal” little girl. I felt even happier when her outfit was a big hit. The other children flocked around to discuss the sequins on the jacket, as well as the curious tip, tapping, sound her shoes made.

We not only had a tug of war over clothing, we also struggled with hair styling. Elizabeth didn’t allow barrettes, ribbons, braids, pony tails, curls….and if she had her way, combs and hair brushes would have been banned from the house. I admit that I missed primping her hair like I had done for her older sister; however, she did compromise. She let me brush her hair, but I had to sing her favorite song while doing it.

If you have a spirited preschooler, don’t despair, you are raising a child with an admirable independent streak. Try one or more of these tips to make you both feel better in the mornings.

1. Pick out two outfits the night before, and let your preschooler decide which one he or she likes best in the morning.
2. Stock your child’s closet with clothing that will work if mixed and in a number of ways.
3. Don’t force your daughter to wear pants if she only wants to wear dresses. And don’t get mad if your son wants to wear the same T-shirt over and over. In the long run, what do these clothing choices hurt?
4. Look together through magazines for hair cuts that are low maintenance, and that don’t require a lot of upkeep.
5. Remove summer clothes and shoes from the closet once the temperatures dip below 60 degrees. (I learned this the hard way!)

  1. I always let our little one (4 years) pick what he wants to wear. Sometimes this means he spends most of the day (at home) in his underwear or goes outside in two different types of plaid, but if it makes him happy, why not?

    I theory is: let kids be as independent as you can. You have to say “no” so often, you might as well say “yes” whenever possible.

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