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Letting kids choose what they wear

A common issue that many parents face has to do with letting their kids choose what they wear. Sooner or later, your child is going to start to express more of an interest in the clothes that they wear and their sense of style in general. A lot of parents are hesitant to allow their kids to take charge of their clothes, for one reason or another.

This post looks into the most appropriate age to let your kids choose what they wear, as well as why you should do it and some tricks on how to go about it.

At what age should you start letting your kids pick their clothes?

Most kids master the basics of getting dressed by the time they are 3 years old. At this age, they can choose outfits that they like. It is usually around this age when you start noticing that they are a bit pickier with their outfits.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you should wait a bit longer, at least when they are 4 or 5, before allowing full control over what they wear. That said, the "ideal" age typically varies, because no two children are the same.

Why should you let your kid choose what they wear?

Here are some of the reasons why you may want to let your kids have more of a say in what they wear.

1. Self-expression

As your children get older, they start to form their own thoughts and develop a unique sense of style. As a result, picking an outfit becomes more than just finding something decent to wear. Allowing them to choose what to wear gives them the freedom to dress based on how they feel. If they’re feeling upbeat, they will likely gravitate towards bright, colorful clothes.

Sure, your kids will probably pick something outrageous that you would have never chosen for them, but is that such a big deal? Letting your kids express themselves in this way helps them learn to share their feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

2. Building a sense of individuality

Closely related to self-expression is building a sense of individuality. After all, you want your little ones to have a unique sense of character. When kids get to choose what they wear, it allows them to stand out as individuals.

That said, in some situations, such as schools that require uniforms, funerals, or weddings, you may need to make them understand why they have to adhere to a given dress code. However, on a normal day, it’s okay to allow your kids to express their individuality. By allowing them to develop a sense of individuality, you encourage them to not worry about trying to fit in and conform to societal norms.

3. It can save you time

While it may seem like you're throwing in the towel, allowing your kids to choose their outfits can make your life a whole lot easier. As a parent, you know how draining it can be to try reasoning with your kids to get them to wear what you want. Why not forfeit this battle and save yourself the hassle?

While it is important to instill discipline in your children, you don’t want them to grow up in an environment where they have little to no control as it will stunt their growth and learning.

4. They will wear what they pick

Another reason why you may want to consider letting your kids choose what they wear is that they will wear the clothes they pick. You may buy your kids clothes that you consider stylish, but if they don’t like them, don’t be surprised if they end up at the back of their wardrobes, never to be worn. If you allow them to pick out clothes for themselves, you can be assured that they will wear them, at least for some time.

5. They can start to learn the value of things

By teaching your kids the value of things such as clothes, you help them develop a sense of budgeting, a skill that can be honed and come in handy in the future. Whenever you go shopping, bring your kids along, and let them know the value of items, so that they are aware of what is affordable and what is simply out of reach. This can help them become more conscious of how they manage their finances when they have their incomes.

6. It’s fun and exciting for them

Many kids tend to require quite a bit of convincing to get dressed when they have no say in what they wear. When you let kids choose what they wear, getting dressed can be a fun and exciting experience that they look forward to each day.

Tips for when kids want to choose what they wear

1. Give options

Kids want control, so why not let them have it in this aspect of their life? After all, you can still control the outcome of how they dress by providing them with choices. For example, ask, “Do you want to wear sweatpants or shorts today?”

2. Be patient

Letting your kids choose what they wear can be nerve-wracking, especially since whatever they pick will probably not be what you would have wanted for them. Exercise restraint even if it tests your patience, and allow room for your little one to experiment and play around as they develop their unique sense of style. With a bit of practice, they will figure out what works best for them. Try this for day-to-day wear, or slow-moving weekends when there isn’t much to do.

3. Allow taste

Just like any other person, your kid likely has clothes that he/she can’t stand. Try to be flexible and understanding of their preferences, as long as they are within reason. You may even discover some easy solutions to your kid’s dislikes – you can cut off an irritating tag or have them wear tights under their shorts when they don’t want to wear jeans on chilly days – just make that their comfort is your main priority.

Final thoughts

Over time, your kids will want a say when it comes to their fashion choices. Giving up a bit of control when it comes to your child’s wardrobe shouldn’t be a cause for worry. As long as your little nugget is confident, comfortable, and happy, they’ll be fine!

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